When Judge Charles Lovell -- the most partisan judge in Montana -- issued another one of his crazy rulings, it set up a true character test for the three candidates who took money beyond the cap during the few days when Montana was stopped from enforcing our anti-corruption laws.
MT-AG: Democrat Pam Bucy Passed the Character Test: The Democratic nominee for Attorney General immediately returned the money once it would be a crime to keep it.
MT-AG: Republican Tim Fox Flailed During the Character Text: When Bucy returned the money and pointed out it would be a crime for Tim Fox to keep his money, Fox called it a "desperate political stunt." But after multiple judges refused to give Tim Fox a "Get Out of Jail Free" card that would let him keep the money, he finally agreed last night to follow the law and return the illegal money. You can't blame him for not wanting to face Pam Bucy in court -- she's a fierce advocate for Montana's laws.
MT-Gov: Republican Rick Hill Failed the Character Test: Rick Hill has spent the last week brazenly defying the law. Luckily, a judge put an end to his criminal conspiracy to violate the law, but Rick Hill is still "judge shopping" to try and find anyone with a robe who will say it is alright for the former insurance executive and lobbyist to violate the law.
So where do things stand now? To really understand, you have to look at the issue from two points of view, legal and political.
Legally, Rick Hill has no case. It isn't even that complicated. Was it legal for Rick Hill to accept the $500,000? Sort of, it was illegal for the state to stop him. But keeping the money, that was clearly illegal.
Politically, things are even worse for Rick Hill. After Tim Fox threw him under the bus, Hill's political position became untenable. And don't forget, Lt Gov John Bohlinger -- the top Republican in Montana -- was the very first person to sign the www.GiveItBackRick.com petition. This isn't a Democrat v Republican split, this is Rick Hill and Koch Brothers stooges v top Republicans, the public, and the Rule of Law.
How did Rick Hill end up in such an awful spot? It was a series of bad decisions, with Congressman Hill failing character tests every step of the road.
This is why smart Republicans were terrified of Rick Hill being the nominee, his lack of ethics was expected to result in just such a scandal. That Rick Hill is in another ethics scandal surprised no one. Lobbyist, congressman, insurance executive -- his entire life has been spent doing unethical things to rip off the populace.
This afternoon is the final debate, where Rick Hill is going to have to explain why he's siding with the Koch Brothers' corruption and why he doesn't get what fellow Republicans John Bohlinger and Tim Fox figured out.
Trying to keep the $500,000 was a crime. After how much illegal money he already spent, Rick Hill can't legitimately win the governor's office. If Hill's corruption is enough to get him more votes, it won't mean he won, it will just mean that he's ahead of the law for a little while longer. But like Lance Armstrong, he will be stripped of his illegal "victory" -- either by a judge or in a recall.
Hopefully it won't come to that as nobody should vote for somebody as brazenly corrupt as Congressman Rick Hill.