HELENA — Two of three legislative candidates who listed the same Bozeman residence as their home in campaign filings are homeless and used a friend’s address because they didn’t have their own, one of the candidates said Thursday.
A Lamme Street house turned up in the Montana Secretary of State candidate filings as the home address for House District 62 candidate Dane Peeples, House District 63 candidate Laura Springer and Senate District 32 candidate Harry Pennington.
All three are running as Democrats, though Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee director Lauren Caldwell said she was unfamiliar with any of them.
That has prompted calls to state campaign regulators questioning the candidates’ legitimacy, even as party officials accuse conservatives of “dirty politics” by entering candidates in Democratic primaries to trip up the nomination process.
Peeples told The Associated Press on Thursday he lives at the Lamme Street address with his disabled father and his daughter. Neither Springer nor Pennington live there, and Peeples said he did not know why his address was listed on their candidate filings.
Springer said in a separate interview Thursday that Peeples told her she could list his home address as her own because she is temporarily homeless and living in a motel.
Springer and Peeples became friends after meeting through the Human Resource Development Council, a Bozeman nonprofit agency that helps the homeless and the poor. The agency employs Peeples.
Pennington is another homeless client of HRDC, Springer said. There was no contact information listed for Pennington.
Peeples said he is a Democrat, and he is running for House District 62 against incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom Woods because he wants to make a difference.
But he may drop out of the race because his employer has a policy that prevents employees from running for office, he said.
“I would love to be able to represent the people of District 62. At the same time, do I want to give up what I love to do?” he said.
HRDC officials did not return a call to confirm that such a policy exists.
Springer said she recently moved to Bozeman and is originally from Eureka. She used to be a Republican but became disillusioned with the party, prompting her to run for the Democratic nomination against candidate Zach Brown, Springer said.
“I can’t make any promises where I’ll stand next year, but I’m standing with the Democrats at this moment,” Springer said.
But like Peeples, she too may drop out of her race to care for her ailing father, she said.
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said he has received multiple calls about the Bozeman address, but nobody had filed a formal complaint by Thursday afternoon.
If a complaint is filed, Motl could investigate to determine whether any of the candidates lied about their address, which can be grounds for a judge to remove the candidate from the ballot.
Candidates also are required to register with Motl’s office by close of business Tuesday. If they don’t, they are automatically disqualified from the ballot, Motl said.
As of Thursday afternoon, Peeples, Springer and Pennington were among 68 candidates who had not registered with the commissioner’s office.
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