During Ron Tussing's mayoral election campaign, he suggested to contributors who had already maxed out at the legal limit of $130 that they could circumvent that limit by giving extra cash at "pass-the-hat" cash fundraisers.
Tussing's pitch for extra funds came to light when an e-mail was forwarded to Tussing's opponent, Al Garver, in which Tussing wrote to supporters:
"People who have maxed out on checks but still wish to do more may put cash in the hat at the fundraiser."
This e-mail, incidentally, indicates that there is probably some truth behind Republican jokes about "passing the hat" at Union Hall -- namely that some of that petty cash probably comes from the pockets of bigger-money donors.
Not to worry, though, because the Billings Gazette headline writer comes to Tussing's rescue by writing "Election ruling backs Tussing."
Technically true, but saying that the state commissioner on political practices "backs Tussing" gives a pretty positive spin on what was more a matter of getting off on the basis of insufficient evidence to meet the very high bar set in Montana law to prove wrongdoing in this situation.
According to the commissioner: "...to prove that Tussing violated campaign finance laws, the state would have had to prove he had both intended to violate the law and that he had done something to "act toward the commission of the offense...'"
Read the article to see the obfuscating explanations given by Tussing, and judge for yourselves whether Montana Headlines is right to doubt the truth of whatever Tussing says. For our part, if he says the sky is blue, we'll continue to look out the window to confirm it for ourselves.
And we will continue to scrutinize the coverage given to him by the Gazette, since some editor over there seems to be sweet on him.