Hertz’ attorney files campaign finance complaint against Democratic challenger Winter

Rep. Adam Hertz, R-Missoula

On the eve of Tuesday’s midterm election, the attorney representing a Missoula Republican made public a campaign finance complaint he filed against a Missoula-area Democratic, alleging he violated several campaign finance laws.

The complaint, filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices by attorney Quentin Rhoades on behalf of Republican Rep. Adam Hertz back in October, alleges that Tom Winter – Hertz’ Democratic challenger – failed to report coordinated expenditures from the Montana Democratic Party.

Both candidates – Hertz and Winter – are competing for a seat representing House District 96 in Missoula. The complaint was filed on Oct. 26 but shared on Monday.

Hertz alleges that the campaign finance reports filed by the Montana Democratic Party list 26 coordinated expenditures totaling $5,383 to benefit Winter’s campaign. However, the complaint suggests, Winter failed to report the expenditures as a contribution to his campaign.

Hertz and Rhoades also contend that Winter mailed out a campaign postcard stating that Hertz “… wants Missoula’s middle class to pay for his mismanagement of the state budget.” The postcard adds that Hertz was looking to enforce “a statewide regressive sales tax” that would force “local communities to raise property taxes.”

“Mr. Winter’s postcard failed to reference a particular vote or votes upon which the information is based and/or disclose all votes made by Rep. Hertz on the same legislative bill, which is a violation of (state law),” the complaint reads.

Montana Democratic Party Spokesman Roy Loewenstein questioned the complaint’s timing and passed it off as an effort to distract voters on the eve of a landmark election. Winter was out knocking doors on Monday evening and was unavailable for comment.

Loewenstein said the information alleged in the complaint was already reported by the state Democratic party.

“This complaint is a frivolous, hypocritical attempt to distract voters from the failed records of Republican legislators at the 11th hour of this election. The Montana Democratic Party already reports this information, unlike the MT GOP, which is currently under investigation by the Commissioner of Political Practices for failing to file years of campaign disclosure reports on their spending in legislative and statewide races,” Loewenstein told the Missoula Current in an emailed response.

“If the Republican Party and their operatives want to have a debate about campaign finance and transparency, they need to look in a mirror rather than waste taxpayer dollars simply to distract from the shortcomings of their candidates.”

In early August, Montana Democrats filed a similar complaint with the state alleging that the Montana GOP committed “hundreds if not thousands” of campaign violations of this and past election cycles.