BOZEMAN — A judge declined to throw out several charges alleging former U.S. Senate candidate Troy Downing bought less costly in-state hunting and fishing licenses when he was not a legal Montana resident.
Downing argued some of the misdemeanor charges were based on mistakes made by accountants who prepared his taxes listing him as a California resident and that he is correcting those returns.
Gallatin County Justice of the Peace Bryan Adams said last week that Downing’s residency for tax purposes was not relevant to whether he met the definition of a Montana resident. The judge added that self-serving acts performed substantially after a wrongdoing is discovered are of minimal value to the court, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports .
Downing has pleaded not guilty to seven misdemeanor charges for actions between 2011 and 2016. He sought to have five of them dismissed based up his amended tax returns.
Christopher Williams, Downing’s attorney, also argued that the state law requiring people to live in Montana for 180 days to qualify for residency with regard to hunting and fishing licenses violates peoples’ rights to work and travel.
The judge also rejected that argument.
“The defendant had the freedom of choice to remain in, or travel from, the State of Montana,” Adams wrote.
Downing also was cited for transferring a hunting license to another person in 2011 and for helping his nonresident son obtain Montana resident deer and elk hunting licenses in 2015. Those citations were not addressed in the pretrial motions.
Downing’s trial was set for July 25, after he asked for it to be delayed until after the June primary. He has requested another extension but Adams has not ruled on that motion.
Adams did rule that the state can use as evidence Downing’s tax returns and social media posts in which he said he was “home” in Fallbrook, California.
In the June primary, Downing finished third out of four Republicans seeking to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.
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