Judge orders COPP to turn over stolen ATP materials, slams State for improper conduct

Judge orders COPP to turn over stolen ATP materials, slams State for improper conduct  

>> Court order rebukes COPP for improperly holding stolen evidence from a criminal investigation, using it to smear candidates before an election
>> Ferguson warns Bullock: ‘This is how Nixon got impeached.’

LIVINGSTON, MONT. — A Montana judge ordered the state’s Commission on Political Practices James Murry Monday to turn over materials that were stolen from a political consultant’s car and trafficked across state lines to Democrat state appointees for use in an election-eve attack on Republican candidates.

Judge Nels Swandal of Montana’s Sixth Judicial District ruled that Commissioner Murry has demonstrated a willingness to disclose private documents to the public, and an inability or unwillingness to keep the such documents secure.

Murry has until Friday to turn over to Swandal all materials or face contempt charges.  The suit was filed by Christian LeFer, consultant to American Tradition Partnership, and Allison LeFer, owner of an unrelated printing and candidate mail business.

ATP is not a party to the suit and has no interest in Allison LeFer’s business or clients, but ATP’s stolen private financial records are among the documents that must be turned over.

In March 2010 ATP asked LeFer to transport the group’s documents to Colorado to be scanned and archived. They were stolen from LeFer’s car, along with other unrelated documents belonging to her own business.

The materials were later found by a convicted meth dealer, who amazingly had the presence of mind to contact the husband of a Democrat Colorado State Senator. Amazingly, though the car which was recovered stripped of its valuables and contents, the documents were the only materials that have turned up.

Rather than contact law enforcement, Schwartz contacted political allies in Montana and worked with the meth dealer to traffic the stolen materials across state lines to the COPP in March 2011.

Upon learning nearly two years later Montana officials conspired with a meth dealer to traffic ATP’s stolen private financial information across state lines, ATP immediately contacted the FBI.

Swandal ruled the documents “appear clearly to consist of stolen property, and are evidence regarding the criminal investigation of the car theft in Colorado.”

“This is going to end very badly for Steve Bullock, Jim Murry and Colorado State Senator Gail Schwartz,” said Ferguson. “ATP has contacted the FBI.  This is now Nixon got impeached along with 48 government cronies convicted of crimes.  People don’t like it when corrupt politicians interfere with criminal investigations and conspire with criminals to evade law enforcement.”

“We didn’t know they had our stolen bank records for nearly two years. I’m no legal expert but intentionally hiding stolen property that is evidence in a criminal investigation reeks of a felony,” said Ferguson.

Swandal ruled Montana officials used the stolen materials to attack certain candidates in an apparent effort to influence an election. “(I)t is undisputed that Commissioner Murry gave national news media access to the Colorado Documents which they used in October, 2012, in an apparent effort to embarrass certain candidates on the eve of the 2012 election,” wrote Swandal.

The Political Practices Commissioner’s legally-mandated job is to enforce campaign finance laws in an impartial manner, not to attack those who disagree with the governor who installed him.  As a taxpayer-funded non-profit corporation PBS (the media outlet that aired the report) is prohibited from assisting the campaigns of political candidates.

“The fact COPP looked at all the materials, found absolutely NO wrongdoing to act on and instead of returning them, secretly held them for nearly two years so they could coordinate an election-eve attack makes the State look unbelievably corrupt,” said Ferguson.

“Commissioner Murry has refused to return the Colorado Documents to their owners and has not stated a legal basis for his refusal,” Swandal writes.

“Furthermore, it appears from the evidence that Commissioner Murry cannot continue to guarantee the security of the Colorado Documents. For example, his office was recently burglarized. According to Commissioner Murry, ‘The office is located in an old house on the Capitol campus, and Murray says ‘it’s a well-known fact that security is minimal.’”

Swandal declared Murray has shown “his demonstrated inability or unwillingness to keep the Colorado Documents secure.”

“I’m sure it’s no coincidence that after the documents were ordered sealed by a judge someone just happened to try and break in the COPP offices to steal them.  It’s typical of the corruption that reeks in Helena,” said Ferguson.

COPP also used stolen ATP financial information to publicize the names and contact information of ATP’s donors.  Under section 501(c)4 of IRC federal law, such information is protected for privacy reasons.

“We are contacting the IRS and Treasury Department to see what federal laws were broken by Steve Bullock and Jim Murry,” said Ferguson.

“ATP always obeys every letter of every applicable law. Everything we do is not just legal but in pursuit of accountable government.  Corrupt politicians hate us, and we have seen them lower themselves to lies, smears and now working with meth dealers to traffic in stolen materials” said ATP Executive Director Donald Ferguson.