HELENA – This week largely has been about the numbers as candidates filed second-quarter fundraising reports and information came out about their personal assets. Here’s a look at the week’s most interesting and important developments in Montana’s election campaigns:
FOREST MANAGEMENT “MISUNDERSTANDING”
Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines was one of more than two dozen representatives who signed a letter to House Speaker John Boehner last week urging him to reject proposals in the Senate that “address forest management problems for only a few select locations, while leaving the rest of our communities behind.” That riled his opponent in the U.S. Senate race, Sen. John Walsh, and Sen. John Tester, who say the letter goes against Tester’s bills addressing forestry management specifically in Montana. Daines spokeswoman Alee Lockman told the Bozeman Chronicle that there was a misunderstanding over the letter and that “Steve does not oppose seeking state-specific forest policies, and the letter was not designed as such.”
FUNDRAISING NUMBERS REPORTED
Daines reported raising more than $1.4 million in the past three months in his fight to unseat Walsh, a Democrat, in the November election. Daines also said he’s raised a total of $3.6 million. Walsh announced last week his campaign has raised $1.25 million for the period from April 1 to June 30 and nearly $2.8 million overall. Daines reportedly has $1.7 million cash on hand, while Walsh said he has $713,000. Democratic U.S. House candidate John Lewis reported raising $337,000 in the second quarter, while his opponent, Republican Ryan Zinke, reported raising nearly $700.000. The Lewis campaign has about $623,000 in the bank, while Zinke’s campaign has about $97,000.
PERSONAL ASSETS: DAINES WEALTHIEST MONTANA MEMBER OF CONGRESS
Recently filed financial-disclosure forms show Daines is the wealthiest Montanan in Congress with personal assets worth between $8.9 million and $32.7 million. In contrast, Walsh reported assets of $66,000 to $165,000. Members of Congress and candidates for federal office must file annual financial-disclosure forms. The forms require each member to report his or her assets and liabilities and a range of the value. Statements said Zinke’s personal wealth ranges from $1.1 million to $2.5 million in value. Lewis reported personal assets worth between $66,000 and $165,000.
DEMOCRATS SEEK ZINKE’S MILITARY RECORDS
Montana Democrats said this week they are asking for Zinke’s military records under the Freedom of Information Act. “Montanans deserve transparency,” James Scott Wheeler of the Montana Democratic Party said in a letter to the chief of Naval Operations in Washington, D.C. In response, Zinke said he has released some military records to the media and that he is proud of them. Democratic Party officials say the request stems from allegations that Zinke misused taxpayer dollars for personal travel. Zinke said the disputed travel claim was for a $211 plane ticket to Montana when he was a junior officer. He said he paid the money back.
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