Tester calls for investigation into MT Supreme Court election mailer

Senator: Stop using Montana elections as a political laboratory experiment

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – With less than two weeks before the November election, Senator Jon Tester is calling for an investigation into a recent election mailer that was sent to 100,000 Montana voters.

The mailer – sent by researchers at Stanford University and Dartmouth College – arbitrarily places four Montana Supreme Court candidates on a political spectrum implying the candidates in a non-partisan race are partisan. The mailer also inappropriately uses the Seal of the State of Montana, misleading voters to believe that the mailer was an official voter guide sanctioned by the state. According to Stanford’s website, the mailers were sent as part of a research project.

Today, Tester sent a letter to the Presidents at both institutions expressing his outrage.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that these institutions are using Montana elections as a political laboratory experiment, at the expense of free and fair judicial elections in our state,” Tester wrote. “Your institutions may have now influenced these decisions by meddling in our elections. Perhaps that was not the intent, but nevertheless, it may well be the outcome of this endeavor. In doing so, it is also possible that your institutions have violated state and federal law, and I will ask appropriate authorities to fully investigate this possibility.”

Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch has filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Political Practices asking the office to investigate any potential wrongdoing.

As a member of the Senate committee which has jurisdiction over the U.S. Postal Service, Senator Tester is calling for the Chief Postal Inspector to investigate if the two schools have violated the Deceptive Mailings Prevention Act.

“The integrity of our elections is what preserves our democracy. Efforts to undermine elections in Montana – whether by fraud or merely by poorly-designed experiments – must not be tolerated,” Tester wrote. “I will do all I can do ensure that Montana voters and their beliefs decide our elections, not outside influences.”