Zinke Under Investigation for Alleged Illegal Campaign Finance Violations
Covert and Questionable Links to Elite Special Interest Group Subject to FEC Complaint
(Helena) – Two campaign watchdog groups have filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging Republican House candidate Ryan Zinke of illegally coordinating with a super PAC he created and served as chairman.
For months there have been questions about Ryan Zinke’s links with Special Operations for America PAC. Over that time, Zinke has skirted questions about his potentially unethical and illegal relationship with SOFA.
Since the allegations, the Zinke campaign has been shrouded in secrecy. Zinke himself has failed to publicly answer questions or deny the charges.
"Montanans play by the rules and want less money in politics and more transparency. Zinke's covert campaign operations fly in the face of Montana values and don't pass the smell test. We call on Zinke to publicly answer questions related to the complaint - Montanans deserve to know,” said Andrea Marcoccio, executive director of the Montana Democratic Party.
The allegations stem from campaign advertisements by SOFA PAC that support Zinke’s campaign. The advertisements use photographs that appear to be owned by the Zinke campaign. It is that type of coordination that is banned by campaign finance laws.
This would not be the first time that Ryan Zinke has been caught up in unethical behavior. According to a senior Defense Department official, while in the military, Zinke “was using government travel to visit his home in Montana. He got caught. That’s why he left the SEALs.” Zinke never contested the allegations.
Montana Republicans have called Zinke’s relationship “highly questionable”. “Former U.S. Representative Rick Hill (R-MT) has also weighed in, saying on his Facebook page that the relationship between Zinke and the PAC is "highly questionable" and needs to be examined.” [KXLH, 11/3/2013]
Ryan Zinke has been the benefactor of more than $70,000 in TV, radio, and internet advertisements paid for by SOFA PAC. “A U.S. House candidate in Montana is benefiting from a political action committee he created, leading at least one opponent and some experts to question the legality of the peculiar arrangement. Since October, when Zinke announced his candidacy, SOFA PAC has spent more than $70,000 on television, radio and Internet advertising in support of his campaign.” [Associated Press, 2/17/2014]
Click here for a timeline of Zinke’s relationship with SOFA PAC.