Why does The Montana Post keep picking on Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton? Because he deserves it.
The latest has Stapleton appealing the ruling of District Court Judge James Reynolds, which struck Green Party candidates from the November ballot. The ruling was based on incorrectly gathered petition signatures. From the IR story:
In the order Monday, Reynolds found signatures invalid for a variety of reasons, from being submitted by a person who didn’t collect them to mismatched signatures and entries lacking the required information.
It looks like an open and shut case against the Greens but not to Stapleton, who will be defending his honor with taxpayer money. As state Sen. Bryce Bennett stated:
Despite the hard work of our county clerks, Secretary of State Cory Stapleton dropped the ball. He was too in a rush to push a political agenda to do his job right.
Then there’s the call for a special session by the Montana GOP to also waste taxpayer money and at the same time thwart the electorate’s option of voting on two initiatives. Unlike the Greens’ signature gathering efforts, I-185 and I-186 look like they’ve qualified for the ballot. If passed, I-185 would continue the funding for Medicaid expansion through increased tobacco taxes and the I-186 would make sure future hard rock mines don’t pollute Montana waters until the end of time.
Bowing to their sponsors — big tobacco and the mining industry — Montana Republican legislators attempted to call a special session to pass their own, milder bills, to address the initiatives. Well, not all Republicans — to date 19 voted against it. So it looks like no session. To date, no Democrat has voted for it but 31 Republicans have.
And “to date” is the key phrase. Stapleton is having a hard time tallying the votes, which could be as many as 150. I was told he’d tweet the updated results at 4 p.m. daily but nothing new as of this evening. The most recent numbers are here. There are two Missoula legislators I know who sent in their ballots last week but haven’t shown up in the tally.
The governor’s office isn’t pleased, according to the Great Falls Tribune. This quote is from Ronja Abel, Bullock’s communications director:
The secretary of state’s office, which is headed by Republican Corey Stapleton, “has refused to release additional information, including names of legislators who have voted or an updated vote count — despite nearly a dozen requests via phone, email and trips down the hallway.”
Keep up the good work, secretary.