HELENA — Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices has determined a former state senator broke at least seven campaign laws in a 2014 Republican primary election and should not appear on future ballots until those errors are corrected.
Commissioner Jonathan Motl said in findings released Tuesday that civil charges and a ban from the political arena are justified against Scott Boulanger, who was appointed to represent Darby in 2012 and narrowly lost the redistricted seat in the following election.
Motl said Boulanger never authorized his treasurer, kept sloppy campaign records and failed to account for about $7,000 in donations and expenditures. Boulanger reportedly also filed one financial report late, improperly refunded donors and never filed a closing report after losing.
“The commissioner understands that Mr. Boulanger has future candidacy aspirations,” Motl wrote in his decision, later warning he will ask election officials to ensure “the name of Scott Boulanger may not appear as a candidate on the ballot of any future election until he files amended reports and a closing report for the 2014 SD 43 primarily election.”
Boulanger said he has complied with the commissioner’s office throughout the investigation, agreed he’s missing some receipts from the campaign and said he’ll complete any paperwork Motl says he overlooked.
“Whatever he wants is what we’ll give him,” Boulanger said. “I just didn’t even know we were missing any reports.”
Boulanger has not filed candidacy paperwork with the state to run in 2018, when his old seat will be up for re-election, nor for any race in 2016. He said he may decide to focus on his gold and silver exchange business instead of running again and was surprised by Motl’s comment about his candidacy.
“I don’t even know what I’m doing tomorrow let alone next election cycle, so I don’t know what led him to that conclusion,” Boulanger said.
Sen. Pat Connell of Hamilton filed a complaint with the commissioner’s office three months after beating Boulanger by 34 votes in the June 2014 Republican primary.
Connell said Boulanger did not report certain expenditures. The commissioner’s office found additional issues during its subsequent investigation.
Motl referred his findings to the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s office. If that office declines to prosecute or doesn’t bring action against Boulanger within 30 days, the commissioner can negotiate a fine or take legal action.