Cooney Fined for Campaign Finance Rule Violations

Commissioner found that Democratic candidate failed to report campaign debt totaling more than $10,000

By Tristan Scott
Lt. Governor Mike Cooney tours a segment of the Great Northern Historical Trail in the Batavia area west of Kalispell on July 24, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

HELENA — Former Democratic candidate for Montana governor Mike Cooney will pay a fine to the state’s top political cop after he was found to have violated the state’s campaign finance rules.

Cooney, who lost the November election to Republican Greg Gianforte, will pay $4,700 to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices.

Commissioner Jeff Mangan found that Cooney failed to report campaign debt totaling more than $10,000 and was late in filing a campaign financial report that was due Oct. 20. He also was found to have accepted over-the-limit donations from the Democratic Governors Association.

The fine settles several complaints filed by Spenser Merwin, the executive director of the Montana Republican Party, and one by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT.

Cooney was earlier fined $1,000 for violating state ethics laws by participating in a campaign-related video conference call from his state office this spring.

A representative of the Cooney campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.