HELENA — The Green Party qualified Friday as a political party for Montana’s 2020 election, allowing candidates to file under its party banner this year – although the party itself has denied any involvement in the effort.
The Montana secretary of state’s office said more than 11,000 signatures from five counties have been filed to certify the party, and that more than the minimum 5,000 have been validated.
Within minutes after the announcement that the party had qualified, Wendie Frederickson of Helena said she would be filing to run for the U.S. Senate as a Green Party candidate.
Yet the Montana Green Party said on its Facebook page earlier this week it is “running no candidates for U.S. House and Senate” this year, and that “Republican and conservative efforts to qualify the Green Party in the state for 2020 may very well lead to a number of `FALSE’ candidates running as Greens in those races.”
Frederickson, a former audit reviewer with the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, told MTN News that she doesn’t know “the specifics behind how (the party) got on the ballot,” but that she’s “excited to have the opportunity to run.”
The Montana Democratic Party, which organized a successful lawsuit to remove the Green Party from the 2018 ballot, noted Friday that no person or group spending money on the signature-gathering effort has filed the proper disclosure documents with the state.
“It’s outrageous and unacceptable that the secretary of state would rubber-stamp a petition packed with signatures collected through deceiving Montanans and violating state-disclosure laws,” said party spokesman Nathan Stein.
Stein said the party hasn’t decided yet whether to take legal action to challenge the Green Party’s qualification for the ballot.
The 2018 lawsuit successfully challenged the validity of enough signatures to disqualify the Green Party.
The conservative Club for Growth filed paperwork with the state commissioner of political practices earlier this year, indicating it would be financing an effort to place the Green Party on the 2020 ballot in Montana.
But a Club for Growth spokesman told MTN News that it decided against the effort after discovering that someone else – unknown to the group – was doing it.
Signature-gatherers began showing up in Bozeman, Billings, Helena, Butte and Missoula last month, asking people to sign petitions to qualify the Green Party.