Why Is Matt Rosendale Campaigning On Your Dime?

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There’s nothing quite like the spectacle of a self-proclaimed “small government conservative” using the resources and time of his state job to campaign for another job. In the past few months, we’ve seen Corey Stapleton do an excellent job of perversely using state resources to hurt his own chances for re-election and lately, it’s been State Auditor Matt Rosendale, who is literally campaigning around the state on your dime.

Over the next few weeks, Rosendale has scheduled 14 stops in Montana towns for what he calls his “Invest in Montana tour,” an opportunity for Mr. Rosendale to use funds from his office to meet with potential voters while pretending to do the functions of his job. The events, which are billed an opportunity to have a roundtable discussion with the Commissioner sound lovely, with free hors-d’oeuvres provided at the Kalispell and Missoula events, as well as lunch at the others.

The upcoming events follow a few that took place in March. Ultimately, Rosendale plans to visit 19 Montana communities to promote himself and his candidacy for the US Senate.

In addition to endlessly promoting these events on the Auditor’s web page and Facebook page, Rosendale and his staff have been paying for sponsored posts on Facebook to get the word out. The events—and the ads–are such transparent efforts to build Rosendale’s chances to win the primary that the former chairman of the Montana GOP, Will Deschamps responded to two event listings on Facebook, saying:

You know these meetings will continue till the Primary Election, don’t you? It’s all politics, always has been, always will be.

And

I suspect these ads will disparate somewhere around or after primary day.

For once, Deschamps is right. There is nothing happening at these events that couldn’t more productively be accomplished by having the Auditor’s staff provide more useful information online for all Montanans to access, but that wouldn’t give Rosendale the opportunity to meet with locals and impress them with his Southern charm or failing that, amuse them with his pronunciation of words like “Bozeman” and “Montana.”

What makes Rosendale’s decision to use state resources and time to campaign and even more egregious offense is that he’s not even doing the basic functions of his job as State Auditor. In March, he skipped out on the Land Board meeting because he was at a campaign event in Lewistown. In February, he voted to delay a vote on an easement, threatening future public access to land, claiming that he didn’t have time to read through the proposal, despite having time to endlessly campaign and despite having a dedicated staffer whose job it is to review these matters for him.

In a rare moment of candor, Rosendale told the crowd at the Bozeman Republican Senate debate that “it doesn’t really matter who holds the auditor’s office,” perhaps an acknowledgement of what everyone seems to know about Mr. Rosendale: he ran for State Auditor not because he has an interest in the job, nor even perhaps to promote his agenda of destroying healthcare access, but because he is desperate to get back to D.C. and would climb into any office to do it.

Matt Rosendale certainly has every right to lose another race for Congress, but he doesn’t have the right to use state time and resources for that campaign. Perhaps some of us should sign up for the events and let him know that. After all, we’re already paying for them anyway.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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