Can the Republicans not find candidates from Montana at all?
We learn tonight that State Auditor and Republican Senate candidate Matt Rosendale affirmed, under penalty of perjury, that he was a Maryland resident in a 2015 Maryland tax filing. While the candidate running on his business acumen as a real estate developer likely didn’t shortchange the people of Maryland their due taxes because he managed to take $58,000 loss on the property when he sold it, Rosendale did sign and submit the document affirming his residency status in Maryland.
It’s pretty clear what’s happened here. Someone inside the Rosendale campaign was likely vetting his documents and decided to get a letter from an accountant taking blame before turning the story over to the press to minimize the damage done. What’s confusing, though, is that the story seems to suggest two different excuses: one, that the accountant’s checked the Maryland residency box after Rosendale signed and the other that the Rosendales were initially sent the wrong form.
Mr. Rosendale does deserve the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not sure he deserves what amounts to a preëmptive press release defending himself against what will likely become an attack from his Republican rivals.
That being said, there are three points that seem awfully important for Rosendale to answer:
- Shouldn’t he, as a real estate developer, have known the details about a real estate deal?
- Given that the only reason someone would sign this document was to claim a tax break, why did he do it?
- Shouldn’t the people of Montana be able to expect that a Senator or State auditor would be careful about reading and signing a document before committing perjury?
Even if a title company wants to take the blame for this mess, Rosendale is the one who signed the document and Rosendale is the one who is responsible.
And it’s hard not to be reminded of the 2017 special election while reading the story. Readers of this blog might recall the Lee Newspapers savaging Democratic candidate Rob Quist over a poorly-sourced, poorly-written tax story that amounted to nothing more than a partisan hit piece while they ignored the fact that Greg Gianforte underpaid his taxes on a prime Bozeman lot for years, depriving the county of funds for schools and other essentials. The choice to highlight the former and ignore the latter almost certainly helped propel Greg Gianforte to victory in the special election and it would seem the press held these stories to similar standards for sourcing and research.
For some reason, this latest story only cites Rosendale people, which offers up the next reminder about 2017’s race. Quoted in the piece is Rosendale communications director Shane Scanlon, who called the snafu “a paperwork error by the title company.” That certainly be true, but it is difficult to understand why a reporter would take Scanlon at his word, given his lies to press last spring after Greg Gianforte assaulted Ben Jacobs. Despite the statement of the victim, police statements by witnesses, and the ultimate confession under oath by Greg Gianforte that he had done it, Shane Scanlon lied to the people of Montana—and the press—just months ago, blaming Ben Jacobs, the victim of an assault, for his own attack.
It’s not easy to understand why someone so willing to lie to the press in May of 2017 gets to be a credible source of information in April 2018.
Let’s hope there’s more digging into Rosendale’s tax records. And maybe a higher standard for those who get to comment on them.