April Fool’s has come early, or at least in the eyes of the various right-wing corporate groups who are backing Rick Hill’s campaign for Governor.
In a laugh-out-loud press release, these groups announced today that they are suing Steve Bullock for “contempt,” on grounds that he has hurt Rick Hill’s image by taking Hill to court over the $500,000 illegal contribution that Hill accepted a few weeks ago.
The remedy sought? The groups, let by the American Tradition Partnership, are trying to get a federal judge to order Steve Bullock–get this–to “pay for ads to repair the damage done to Hill’s character.”
The frightening part about this lawsuit is that is being brought before James Lovell, the federal judge who ruled recently that all of Montana’s campaign donation limits are unconstitutional.
As far as I know, there are no grounds for somebody to sue a candidate for “injury to another candidate’s character,” especially not a third party. The only possible scenario in which a lawsuit of this type could be brought would be if Bullock made some purposeful, public and malicious false statement alleging that Hill had committed a sexual crime or something of that nature. Even then, it is doubtful that a court would order ads made to repair Hill’s character. The best Hill could do would be to sue for damages later on.
So this lawsuit is a big joke and it’s not really clear what they are trying to do, beyond getting a headline. If Lovell does the right thing, he’ll sanction the plaintiffs for wasting his time.