Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey, who is facing a recall election on November 3, has filed a complaint with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, alleging that the political committee involved in placing the issue on the ballot, Committee to Recall the Mayor, failed to properly file as a committee in the Stevensville recall election as required by Montana campaign finance law and failed to file a C-6 finance report on the August 30, 2020 deadline for activity between June 26th-August 25th.
Dewey was recently the subject of a similar complaint himself. Former mayor Jim Crews filed a complaint against Dewey for not registering with the COPP as a candidate in the Recall Election and failing to file two of the required financial reports. Dewey was found in violation by the COPP.
In his complaint against the Committee to Recall the Mayor, Dewey writes, “A local issue becomes a local ballot issue ‘upon certification by the proper official that the legal procedure necessary for its qualification and placement on the ballot has been completed’, 13-1-101(6)(b), MCA. In the decision of Crews v. Dewey, the Commissioner of Political Practices found that “Because Mayor Dewey did not resign the office, on May 27 the requirement to hold a special recall election was formally triggered under Mont. Code Ann. §2-16-622(1).”
Dewey argues that state law provides a committee seeking to place a ballot issue before the electors five days to file the relevant statement with the COPP. Because the legal procedure to place the recall issue on the ballot issue was completed on May 27, 2020, the C-2 Committee Registration as a political committee was due to the COPP on or before June 3, 2020. Committee to Recall the Mayor did not provide a completed Committee Registration to the COPP until June 17, 2020. Committee to Recall the Mayor failed to properly file as a committee in the Stevensville recall election as required under Montana campaign finance law, according to Dewey.
“You will see that many of the individuals listed as circulators on the enclosed Petition Signers Report are also listed on campaign finance reports filed with your office by Committee to Recall the Mayor. Based on this information, there is no question that Committee to Recall the Mayor sought to place the recall issue before the voters of Stevensville,” wrote Dewey.
Dewey also argues that the law was violated concerning financial reports as well. He states that according to the COPP website reporting calendar for committees including Independent, Incidental, Political Party, and Ballot Issue Committees, C-4 and C-6 reports were due on August 30, 2020 for activity between June 26th-August 25th. However, the Campaign Electronic Reporting System only reflects that Committee to Recall the Mayor did not file the required report on or before the deadline of August 30, 2020. The Campaign Finance report filed by the committee on September 19, 2020 verifies that activity did in fact occur during the previous reporting period but was not reported by the deadline corresponding with that period. The September 19th campaign finance report reflects $1,220.00 in expenditures between July 6th and July 17th. These expenditures should have been reported by August 30, 2020.
The complaint has been accepted by the COPP and is under investigation.