Candidate Fagg To Announce He’s a Candidate, Finally

Totally not a candidate when he posted this

Today at 4:00 p.m. Judge Russ Fagg will unveil the big secret that he is, in fact, running for the Senate against Jon Tester. It’s a strange announcement, one not only marred by the fact that everyone vaguely aware of Montana politics has known for months that Fagg would but also for a stinging condemnation from his local paper calling out Fagg for running for office (and lying about) while still acting as a judge.

A Gazette editorial noted that Fagg has violated the Montana Judicial Canons that prohibit a sitting judge from identifying themselves as candidates for political office or opposing a candidate for a non-judicial office.

And Fagg has done both, attacking Senator Tester, attending fundraisers for his own candidacy calling himself “Judge” Fagg in his donation brochure and materials. Worse yet, Fagg has a big D.C. political firm working to raise money for him and implausibly claimed to the Gazette that they are “sending communications on his behalf” without a contract with the firm.

It’s bad enough to lie to Montana voters before you’ve even begun a campaign, but to act like we’re stupid enough to swallow that story? That’s just insulting.

Fagg’s faux candidacy is so egregious that the American Democracy Legal Fund has filed an FEC complaint against him for “engaging in extensive campaign activities for U..S Senate in Montana without filing as a candidate for any office.”

The ADLF is right: Fagg is running a “shadow campaign” designed to let him raise money, attack Senator Tester, and gain all the advantages of candidacy without the pesky reporting requirements that every other candidate must face.

And that he’s done all of this as a sitting judge is especially troublesome. Back in 2016, Judge Fagg himself wrote in the Missoulian:

The rule of law, in its simplest form, is that nobody is above the law. All people, presidents and kings included, are treated the same under the law….For a just society to exist, these core principles are essential.

That Judge candidate Fagg has put his personal ambition ahead of protecting the integrity of the judiciary and the rule of law is telling; that he’s abandoning his job in Yellowstone County despite a huge backlog of cases is damning.

I guess he’s making some sort of announcement today, but Mr. Fagg has managed to make it clear already that he’s not someone who can be trusted to tell the truth to Montanans, much less represent them in Washington.

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 would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a 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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  • Fagg, for over a year, has been doing everything he can to increase his name recognition and publicize his “judgeship” as a qualifier for political office. I’ve read a number of his “educational” screeds on judicial matters, and leaving aside the usual mom & apple pie tributes to the principles he ignores in his own conduct, I have to say I’ve been underwhelmed by his lack of depth and apparent determination to legislate from the bench.

    The man is a judicial lightweight and displays an appalling lack of willingness to abide by even the most basic electoral regulation; that regulation he claims no one should be above.

    On a more snarky note, that clenched-jaw grimace that he presents as a nice-guy smile would trigger a snarling attack from most well-mannered dogs.

    • So who do you think will get the Republican nomination, Bill: Zinke backed out-of-state millionaire and hunting license abuser Downing; Bannon selected, anti-health care and drone assassin Rosendale; or the ethically challenged Judge/Candidate Fagg?

      • Trump is circling the drain, Bill. I can’t wait to see which of your candidates is going to follow him into the cesspool.

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