GOP Political Operative Charged with Stalking Whitefish Man

Daniel Edward Duffey on Monday was charged with two counts of stalking in Flathead County District Court for allegedly harassing a Whitefish man and accusing him of sexual assault

By Maggie Dresser
A Whitefish Police Department car is parked at the City of Whitefish Emergency Services Center on August 19, 2020. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

A 39-year-old Billings man who served as the former political director for Gov. Greg Gianforte’s 2020 campaign and continues to work in state politics on Monday was charged with two counts of stalking – a felony and a separate misdemeanor – in Flathead County District Court for allegedly harassing a Whitefish man he accused of “sexually assaulting people.”

Daniel Edward Duffey was booked in the Flathead County Detention Center on Feb. 3, where he remains on a $50,000 bond. His arraignment hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22 at 9 a.m. before Flathead County District Court Judge Dan Wilson.

According to charging documents filed on Feb. 5, the victim on Jan. 21, 2024 reported the harassment to the Whitefish Police Department (WPD), telling officers that Duffey repeatedly contacted him and his family, making unfounded accusations of sexual assault. The defendant is also accused of launching a campaign to tarnish the victim’s reputation by printing out flyers with graphics stating his identity and that he sexually assaults men.

The victim told authorities that he met Duffey at a football game in Missoula in November. After learning they had a shared interest in rugby, the men exchanged numbers and socialized again later that night.

About one week after meeting, Duffey contacted the victim about a rugby connection. The following week Duffey once again reached out to the victim to ask if he wanted to get a beer. When the victim didn’t respond, he said he later received a text from Duffey accusing him of being “all over” Duffey and sexually assaulting him, according to documents.

The victim denied the accusation and said Duffey continued texting him and would apologize for the allegations but then would “blow up” when he didn’t respond. Duffey then threatened to report the alleged incident if he didn’t admit it and apologize to him.

Duffey continued texting and threatening the victim and eventually contacted his fiancé and in-laws, as well as his employer and coworkers, a local rugby team and their business sponsors, according to records. Duffey initiated the contact via text, Facebook messaging, emails and letters. The victim’s mother-in-law received a letter from the defendant that detailed claims of sexual assault and photos of Duffey with well-known politicians, records state.

According to documents, Duffey continued harassing the victim and wrote more accusations on his wedding website.

On Feb. 2, law enforcement collected 20 flyers that were found on vehicles at a Kalispell bar revealing the victim’s identity, his rugby team affiliation and stating, “I sexually assault men.” Dozens more flyers were found at the victim’s wedding venue in Whitefish and in their neighborhood.

The defendant continued sending threatening messages to the victim’s fiancé with a different phone number on Feb. 3, and a WPD officer arrested Duffey later that day during a traffic stop. After a search warrant was obtained, officers found 26 flyers, a poster board with the victim’s photo on it, and envelopes addressed to the victim’s employer, coworkers, and family members.

The Montana Free Press was the first outlet to report on Duffey’s connection to campaign politics. According to the Associated Press, Duffey was fired in 2020 when the Gianforte campaign learned he was under investigation after he was accused of using his own car door to strike the side of another car multiple times in a restaurant parking lot in Bozeman. No charges were filed in that case. Prior to his arrest, the Lee newspapers’ Montana State News Bureau attributed a quote to Duffey and described his involvement in Montana Policy Action, a 501(c)4 dark money group that purchased $182,000 in television ads criticizing Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale, who on Wednesday announced his run for U.S. Senate.