Perry says he’ll work to right campaign finance violation

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Zac Perry

The Montana state Commissioner of Political Practices found that House District 3 representative Zac Perry, a Democrat, violated campaign finance laws for gifting his campaign manager more than the allowable limit in 2016.

Responding to several complaints filed by Billings Republican Jake Eaton, commissioner Jeffrey Mangan found that Perry gave his campaign manager Barry Conger a $500 gift at the end of Democrat’s 2016 run.

Conger volunteered as campaign manager from approximately March to November 2016.

The problem with the gift, Mangan ruled, is that under state law, it can’t be more than $250.

Mangan considered excusing the complaint, but noted the gift was fully double the allowable amount and found Perry guilty of a campaign finance violation, although he did note that Perry reported the gift in the timely manner and in accordance with state law.

Eaton’s complaint also alleged that Perry’s campaign broke other campaign finance laws, such as the detail given on expenditures such as mailers; and misuse of surplus campaign funds.

But Mangan disagreed, noting the mistakes were made under the principle of “excusable neglect” and were first-time offenses. He did require the campaign to file more in-depth expenditure reports, however.

As for the gift violation, Mangan referred it to the Lewis and Clark County attorney for prosecution, but also noted that the county attorney often waives minor cases back to the commissioner’s office. In the event that happens, Perry could face a possible fine, Mangan noted.

Perry said he didn’t realize the maximum gift amount was $250.

“It was a campaign law I wasn’t familiar with,” he said.

He said he planned on making the matter right.

“We’ll do everything we can to work with the commissioner and make it right,” he said.

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