At a fundraising event on May 11, Attorney General Austin Knudsen told a crowd of potential contributors that campaign contribution limits are “ridiculous.”  He went on to tell the crowd that he had recruited a person to run against him in the Republican Primary. Current contribution limits in Montana law provide that a donor can contribute the maximum amount to a candidate in a contested primary race and again in a race in the general election. Candidates are also allowed to carry unspent funds in the primary over into the general election. This shell game allows a candidate to essentially double the amount of money that can be raised from one donor.

The Daily Montanan reported that Knudsen said,  “I do technically have a primary. However, he is a young man who I asked to run against me, because our campaign laws are ridiculous. So, he’s a young man from my part of the state. His name is Logan Olson. He’s not running. He filed to run against me simply because under our current campaign finance laws in Montana, it allows me to raise more money. So, he supports me and he’s going to vote for me [audience laughs].”

The Montana Free Press reported that the friend Knudsen recruited to “run” against him has not organized any campaign, other than filing for office. In and of itself this game Knudsen and his young friend, Logan Olson, are playing is likely illegal.  But then it turns out that Olson doesn’t even meet the legal requirements for running for Attorney General.  Specifically, the law requires that candidates running for Attorney General have  five years of legal practice in Montana under their belt in order to run. Olson was admitted to the Montana Bar in 2020.  

Montana law prohibits falsely filing for office or making a false oath or affidavit as required for candidates running for office. The law also prohibits one candidate from enticing or threatening other candidates not to run in an election. The Montana Democratic Party has filed two complaints with the Commissioner of Political Practices which have been accepted for investigation. This is just one more example of Knudsen doing as he pleases without regard for the law.  He is currently charged with 41 ethics violations filed by the State Bar’s Office of Disciplinary Counsel.