The American Democracy Legal Fund has filed a Federal Election Commission complaint against Judge Russell Fagg for multiple violations of campaign finance law, including engaging in extensive campaign activities for U..S Senate in Montana without filing as a candidate for any office.
Federal Election rules require individuals running for federal office to register and file financial reports within 15 days when their campaign activities go beyond “testing the waters” of their candidacy.
The complaint details how Judge Fagg has gone far beyond “testing the waters” and violated FEC law:
- He has discussed his candidacy for Senate multiple times, in public and in the media including touting endorsements, saying he has the “best shot” to win the general election, and telling Montanans “I certainly would appreciate your support.”
- He has spoken out against his opponent, saying he’s “in lockstep” with the Left and “gone Washington.”
- He has started a campaign website with a donation platform and sent out campaign literature.
- His campaign website features a range of resources that appear to have been financed and created by Montana’s judiciary, including photos of Judge Fagg in his black judge’s robe and in official chambers.
“Russell Fagg is running a shadow campaign, breaking federal election law, and violating Montana’s judicial ethical guidelines,” said Brad Woodhouse of ADLF. “He’s made it crystal clear that he’s running for U.S. Senate and he should immediately step down from the bench and register as a candidate so that Montanans get the transparency in this election that they deserve.”
Fagg has run his shadow campaign while still serving as a Montana judge for months, engaging in political activaties while still ruling on cases, something that’s been criticized roundly in Montana media.
Read the full complaint here.