Troy Downing, Tax Cheat and Poacher, Announces for State Auditor

One of the themes I’ve hit on over the years at this blog is that Montana Republicans seem somehow to lack the shame that keeps most people in check. As bad as it’s been—from Denny Rehberg showing up to cut ribbons at highway projects he’s voted against to Matt Rosendale claiming he will always support veterans despite having a record of voting against them at every turn—it’s possible that the most shameless might just be California’s Troy Downing.

Downing just announced he is running to be the State Auditor, a job that will require him to oversee insurance and securities, just months after we learned that he schemed to reduce his California tax burden by claiming to be a resident and after he pled guilty to a series of charges for poaching.

If he weren’t a Republican, it would be unbelievable. A cursory look at his campaign web site demonstrates that Downing has no interest in the actual position, nor any real knowledge of what it would entail. The site talks about protecting the Second Amendment–certainly not a function of the Auditor–and more worryingly, repeatedly references the idea that Downing will “reduce” burdensome regulations. That, of course, is almost exactly the opposite of the function of the Auditor, a position that is all about ensuring that regulations protect the people of Montana from dishonest brokers and insurers.

All of that speaks to what has become typical for Montana Republicans: despite their professed hatred for government, they’re all eager to jump on board, most likely to use a position like Auditor as a stepping stone for their real dreams.

But Downing in special. He’s running for Auditor despite having repeatedly demonstrated that he, at the best, is incapable of following regulations, and, at the worst, is unwilling to.

This site was the first to break the news that Downing’s residency status in Montana was questionable at best, and subsequent reporting showed just how problematic that was for Downing. When Downing was caught for illegally taking game by the Montana FWP, he blamed everyone but himself, casting a net that included:

  • his past accountants.
  • The FWP warden who didn’t tell him to adjust his returns.
  • Montana law which requires a person to actually spend 180 consecutive days in the state he purports to live in.
  • THE DEEP STATE. (No, I am not making that up)

It’s hard to imagine how Downing believes we should elect him to any office, much less one that oversees complex financial transactions when he was apparently unable or unwilling to read hunting regulations that 14-year-olds in Montana can manage.

Of course, that’s not all. Downing was claiming a primary homeowner exemption for his property in California while claiming Montana residency, as the Bozeman Chronicle found:

U.S. Senate candidate Troy Downing of Big Sky is receiving a tax break on property he jointly owns with his wife, Heather, in California, an exemption that is for homeowners if the home is their primary residence.The Chronicle obtained a copy of Downing’s property tax bill for a Sleeping Indian Road residence he owns in Fallbrook, California, about 60 miles north of San Diego.

Once again, Downing blamed his accountant, the media, and the deep state.


There is a very strange narrative in Montana politics lately, one that suggests Republicans have a deeper bench of candidates than Democrats, but it’s a hard sell when Republicans are celebrating the candidacy of a convicted poacher and unrepentant tax cheat who suffers from such delusions of grandeur that he believed the “deep state” was trying to derail his vanity Senate bid.

Montana can do better. Hell, the Republicans can do better.

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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  • Really, Don, what is it with the Republican Party, even here in Montana? Millionaire candidates for governor, senator, congressman and state auditor all running to represent us, working class Montanans. I’m guessing it’s because Montana is a cheap date for a millionaire from Maryland (Rosendale) and California millionaire Downing. And how long are they going to stay in their respective offices? Bail after one term, like Gianforte and Rosendale, to run for higher office? I’m not against millionaires per se, it’s just that’s about all the Montana GOP has to offer. The only alternatives are a corrupt, incompetent secretary of state who’s running for congress (after bailing on the governor’s race) and an attorney general who’s now playing the race/immigration/gay baiting card to appeal to the far-right base (i.e. knuckle draggers). And all the above candidates are singing Trump’s praises, a president who makes Nixon look virtuous and George W intelligent. The 2020 race is going to tell us a lot about the intellect of Montana voters.

  • There seems to be a core group of GOP leeches who are simply desperate to keep their trotters in the public trough. We’re seeing the majority of them in this coming election – unfortunately.

    Have you noticed Roger Koopman doing everything he can to get his name in front of Montana? Any takers on bets for which public office he’s going to go for?

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