During contentious races, candidates get heated, emotional and sometimes make poor decisions. That is not what happened in the Democratic primary for HD 94 in Missoula. Matt Bell has falsely claimed endorsements from major progressive organizations. Also, strong physical evidence shows that Matt Bell most likely has committed multiple violations of Montana’s campaign finance laws and lied about his Democratic primary opponent’s record.
Democratic State Senator from Missoula Cliff Larsen has filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices against Matt Bell for these numerous falsehoods and infractions.
Bell has admitted these false endorsements in a letter to the editor the Missoulian ran today.
Here’s the gist; Matt Bell sent out a campaign mailer that was received by Missoula County Democratic primary voters a few days ago. In this mailer, he claimed endorsements from organizations that had not endorsed him and often had endorsed his Democratic primary opponent, Kim Dudik.
Kim Dudik was endorsed by the Montana Conservation Voters. Matt Bell falsely claimed he was endorsed by MCV in the mailer.
Planned Parenthood Advocates endorsed Kim Dudik. Matt Bell falsely claimed he was endorsed by Planned Parenthood.
MEA-MFT, the largest teachers union in Montana did not endorse in the race. Matt Bell falsely claimed he was endorsed by them.
Here is the mailer:
The mailer is rife with intentional misstatements about Dudik’s record as Larsen’s complaint with COPP details. Bell asserts that he mistakenly put the endorsements in as placeholders, this is an interesting argument that would carry more weight if not for all of the other intentionally misleading statements on the mailer or as Larsen also claimed that Bell did not notify Dudik of the mailer as he is required to by law.
3-term state legislator Kim Dudik has been endorsed by numerous groups and prominent Montana elected officials. Missoula Mayor John Engen endorsed her as has NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, Montana Conservation Voters, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana and here is a full list of endorsements:
I am a staunch progressive and support the movement to bring the Democratic party to stronger positions on providing healthcare for all Americans, ending mass incarceration, proper taxation, defeating corporatism, medical marijuana and many more issues. Matt Bell claims to stand for these issues as well, but how can you trust a candidate who cannot follow the simplest of campaign finance rules such as notifying your opponent of legally required actions?
Bell’s claim that the endorsements were just placeholders does not pass the smell test and his intentionally misleading attacks on Dudik are just off the mark. Bell is trying to paint Dudik as something she is not. Kim Dudik has a record of accomplishment in the Montana Legislature and as an incumbent legislator would be very tough to beat so it looks like instead of running on what he stands for tried to invent support that didn’t exist for him.
If Matt Bell would like to put an endorsement on a mailer, he can put my endorsement of his immediate withdrawal from the race for HD 94.
Matt Bell has broken the sacred trust of the Trump era and “the resistance.” In this era we on the left, progressives, Democrats, liberals et cetera, we must unify, we must show decorum in primaries, we must be principled and stick to our values and ethical standards.
If you want to win a Democratic primary it should be based on the real issues, representing the real people who support you and why they support you. Bell’s tactics look to be directly from the Trump playbook. Social media accounts supportive of Donald Trump shared that the Pope had endorsed Trump in the fall of 2016 prior to election day. This was obviously untrue, but the false endorsement carried water and was one of the most shared posts of the 2016 election on Facebook.
Matt Bell should withdraw from the race for HD 94 in Missoula. It is the only action that will show he is actually sincere. The time for contrition is immediate, not later, not half-hearted apologies or justifications for his actions.
Matt Bell is unfit to hold a seat in the Montana Legislature.