Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill’s campaign has had to freeze all media advertising, polling and travel to comply with a judge’s order not to spend a disputed $500,000 donation.
Campaign manager Brock Lowrance says the campaign has gone dark on television, radio and the Internet since last Thursday.That’s when District Judge Kathy Seeley issued a temporary restraining order against spending the Montana Republican Party donation.
Lawyers for Hill and his opponent Democrat Steve Bullock each provided arguments to Judge Seeley Monday. The donation was given during a short window when campaign spending limits were dropped. The Bullock campaign says the money is no longer legal to hold or spend now that the limits have been restored.
Hill campaign lawyer Cory Swanson says that’s not what the law states.
“It doesn’t say anything about holding money or possessing money, it says receiving money and that act took place on October 5th, well before the law was back in place,” Swanson said.
The Hill campaign also argued blocking the money unfairly benefits the Bullock campaign. Hill’s campaign used the disputed money to pay for ads during the few remaining weeks of the election season. Bullock campaign manager Kevin O’Brien says the Hill campaign had a long time to plan for those last few weeks without the money.
“He’s had a budget set since at least the Summer when he placed his advertising buys.” O’Brien said. “There’s no way he was expecting a $500 thousand dollar cash infusion into his campaign on October 1st.”
The Hill campaign says it will file final court documents in the case Tuesday. Judge Kathy Seeley says she will make her decision on the disputed donation as quickly as possible.
–The Associated Press contributed to this report