HELENA (AP) — Secretary of State Corey Stapleton has been fined $4,000 for using state resources to announce he was seeking the Republican nomination for governor in 2020, a state official said Monday.
Stapleton used state facilities, equipment, supplies and personnel to make his campaign announcement on Jan. 2, said Jeff Mangan, the commissioner of political practices. He was fined the maximum of $1,000 for each of four violations.
Stapleton sent his announcement from his personal email account to his chief of staff’s work email account. She forwarded it to another employee who formatted the announcement on letterhead with a state seal before emailing it, from her state account, to 154 members of the media, Mangan ruled.
“It is incumbent on individual public employees and officers, and the agencies that they work for, to know the obligations that the Code of Ethics places on them while on the job, at the workplace and in the use of state resources,” Mangan wrote.
Stapleton apologized in a statement from by his chief of staff Christi Jacobsen. “It won’t happen again,” he said.
Mangan did not assess Stapleton for any costs incurred by his office or by the Democratic Party.
Stapleton owes the people of Montana for misusing their taxpayer dollars to announce his next political campaign, said Monica Lindeen, executive director of the state Democratic Party.