District Court Judge Kathy Seeley placed a temporary restraining order on the Hill campaign, telling them to stop spending the over-the-limit money until a hearing can be held next week. In addition to the $500,000 from the Republican Party, Hill also received $39,613 from individuals giving over the limit, according to court documents filed by the Bullock campaign. The hearing will be October 29th, eight days before the election. Even if Seeley rules quickly, Hill will have barely any time to use his new half million dollars.
Accepting the $500,000 was both an ethical lapse and a strategic blunder for Hill. Was the campaign so cash-strapped that they needed to turn to anonymous (likely out-of-state) donors? Did they expect Montanans not to notice or care? And most puzzling, why didn’t they predict a fierce response from Steve Bullock, the champion who’s spent the last two years fighting an uphill battle against anonymous corporate money and Citizens United?