Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton is again misusing his office in an attempt to gain political advantage.

Stapleton is running for the Republican nomination for governor. In a perplexing move, he is trying to override Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock’s veto of a bill that would redefine the definition of “wild bison” as animals that have never been held in captivity.

In his veto message, Bullock said the change would create confusion over the status of Yellowstone National Park bison. The change could possibly make nearly all bison ineligible for establishing wild bison populations outside the park. The agriculture community embraced the change while wild bison advocates opposed it.

Stapleton declared the veto invalid and moved to enter the measure into law, saying the governor did not meet a 10-day deadline for delivering the veto to the secretary of state’s office. A state district judge has issued an injunction against Stapleton’s action and ordered the law be stricken from the state code.

And with good reason.

Stapleton’s argument makes no sense. Bullock vetoed the measure within the 10 days required by law and posted it officially online. If some requirement existed that vetoes must be delivered to the secretary of state’s office within that time frame, it would have been used decades ago by political rivals to negate gubernatorial vetoes. Stapleton’s action is clearly just a stunt to get some ink for his campaign.

And it’s not the first time he’s stubbed his political toe. When he announced his run for the governor’s office, he did so on official secretary of state letterhead, in violation of state law. And after his office botched the publication of a voter information pamphlet that included erroneous information, he awarded the lucrative contract to publish a correction to a political crony.

Stapleton’s antics are more than just political shenanigans. Arguing pointless cases in court costs money. And what Stapleton’s doing is just a waste of taxpayer dollars.

If Stapleton wants Montana voters to elect him governor, he better start by taking his job as secretary of state seriously and stop using the office to further his political ambitions.

Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Don Beeman, community member
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Sarabeth Rees, community member
  • David Swingle, community member

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