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2020 House Race Corey Stapleton Featured Montana Politics

Corey Stapleton’s Tiny Haul in the Congressional Race Matches His Minute Chances of Victory

Photo from MT SoS web page

Molly Ivins once wrote that “when satire is aimed at the powerless, it is not only cruel — it’s vulgar,” and that maxim has almost made it impossible to continue writing about—and mocking—Secretary of State Corey Stapleton. After nearly three disastrous years as Secretary of State, an abandoned bid for the governor’s chair, and almost universal contempt for lack of personal ethics and professional ability, it almost seems cruel to mock his pathetic fundraising efforts in his bid to represent Montana in Congress.

Almost.

In the report covering April 1-September 30, Stapleton has raised $122,000 in his quixotic bid for Congress, an amount dwarfed by his Republican Matt Rosendale (more on his report tomorrow) and the leading Democratic candidate, Kathleen Williams.

But it’s not just that Stapleton was able to raise much money that’s funny; it’s that a huge percentage of the money he did raise comes from people who live with him or work for him.

While Stapleton took money from the typical kind of Republican donor (billionaire James Cox Kennedy stands out), Stapleton raised much of his paltry sum by hitting up people who work under him at the Secretary of State’s office. His deputy, Christi Jacobsen, and her husband? In for $5,600.

Office managers, election directors, IT support staff, and attorneys for the Secretary’s office all chipped in as well, some (along with their spouses) maxing out in their donations for his primary campaign.

Even Jake Eaton, who Stapleton gave hundreds of thousands of dollars in a no-bid contract, threw in $500, a rather low total from someone whose family personally collected tens of thousands of dollars because of Stapleton’s incompetence.

Even the donations from Stapleton’s family are suspect. While all of the Stapleton children appear to have donated $2,800 to the campaign, that seems like an awfully high amount for a beginning teacher and someone who just entered the military to have on hand for a political donation.

Once one takes out the family contributions and those whose continued employment depends on Stapleton, it becomes apparent that Stapleton has almost no support for his bid inside or outside of Montana, and he will struggle mightily to counter a narrative of his own creation: that he is simply unfit for public office.

Only then, once Stapleton’s influence finally comes to an end, will Ivins’s advice apply, and all of us can just stop poking fun at this perpetual candidate whose aspirations far exceeded his abilities.

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.

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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