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You Can’t Make This Up: Corey Stapleton Paid “Fool’s Errand Films” to Misinform Montanans

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In light of Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s refusal this week to take responsibility for the mismanagement of his office that cost the people of  Montana over $320,000  while enriching a personal friend and political ally, we’re taking another dive into Stapleton’s penchant for spending state resources on questionable purchases.

Some of the purchases are typical Stapleton largesse with other people’s money-a $3,800 stay at a five-star Loews Hotel, $430 at Cabelas.com, thousands of dollars for pizza and coffee, and $130 for chocolates at the Parrot, one of the most frustrating (if unintentionally accurate) expenditures listed on the state checkbook has to be the decision to pay a California company called Fool’s Errand Films thousands of dollars to produce self-promoting videos, including this one that, as we have reported before, encouraged Montana voters to invalidate their mall ballots by signing them.

After threatening the Montana Post with legal action, Stapleton pulled the video from YouTube, meaning the thousands of dollars spent on its production were wasted.

In the vast list of wasteful expenditures Stapleton has overseen during his short time as Secretary of State, it’s probably fair to say that $6,000-$7,000 for some self-promotional videos are not his greatest sin, but they are perhaps as emblematic of Stapleton’s belief that his office exists to increase his tiny chances of being elected governor as any of the rest.

It’s not surprising that the man whose office failed to spend federal resources to improve Montana’s elections in a timely fashion and who used his office to enrich friends would ask Montanans to pay for his vanity and ambition, but it’s time that Stapleton finally starts to understand that we’re watching him–and his use of the state checkbook–carefully.

And next week we’ll share more of what we’ve found.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we\'d certainly appreciate it.

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.

5 Comments

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  • Corey Stapleton has given his opponents some good material for his next campaign. Shame on you for using our tax dollars to promote yourself.

  • I appreciate your in-depth reporting on this subject. I use the Secretary of State’s website to renew LLCs and annual reports for two small nonprofits and my own small business, and to renew my professional license each year. I have done this online for years and was familiar with the process – until Corey Stapleton was elected. Changes were made to the process and website, none of them for the better. The changes were confusing and made a routine task difficult to accomplish until I figured out their new way of doing things. No benefit whatsoever to those using the site, and I kept wondering – why make things harder?

  • Stapleton is so much like the president. Searching for problems where they don’t exist so he can pretend to fix them, too arrogant to ask for help in learning the complexities of his position and completely incapable of admitting that he has made a mistake. He has lost, fired or drive away from the entire election staff, some of whom had been there for decades. All this and a chauvinist to boot! Sad.

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