Senate Bill Aims to Relieve Jore’s Debt

A Republican State Senator in Montana has introduced a bill that would require the state to pay legal costs associated with a challenge to the results of the 2004 state legislative contest involving Constitution Party candidate Rick Jore. As you might remember, Jore eventually lost his fight for the seat due to some questionable court rulings and disputed ballots. As a result he was charged with paying his opponant’s legal bills.

Well, two years later Jore has been elected to the legislature outright, but the debt still hangs over his head.

From the Billings Gazette...

Rep. Rick Jore of Ronan has an $18,000 bill hanging over his head because he ended up in an unusual 2004 election recount and court case.

Now a fellow legislator is asking the state to bail out Jore.

“I don’t think it’s fair; he was not the one who did anything wrong,” Sen. John Cobb, R-Augusta, said Monday, as he presented a bill that would require the state to pay Jore’s bill. “This is just one way of solving it.”

Under current law, if people go to court to challenge an election result as invalid, they must sue the winning candidate. That’s what happened in 2004 in a legislative contest involving Jore, whose initial victory ended up being thrown out by the Montana Supreme Court.

If the challengers win the case, as one did against Jore, the law also allows them to recover their legal costs from the loser – in this case, Jore.

Senate Bill 117 says the state, rather than the losing candidate, should be on the hook for the legal costs. The bill also says the law will apply retroactively to Nov. 1, 2004, thus covering the result from the Jore case.

Cobb presented his bill Monday to the Senate State Administration Committee, which took no immediate action.

The bill stems from the 2004 election in House District 12, where Jore, a Constitution Party candidate, was in a three-way race against a Republican and Democrat Jeanne Windham of Polson.

Windham and Jore ended up in a tie for first place after a recount, and then-Gov. Judy Martz, a Republican, indicated she would break the tie by appointing Jore, thus giving Republicans a 50-49 majority over Democrats in the House for the 2005 Legislature, with Jore the lone Constitution Party member.

But Windham and the Democratic Party said several votes that had been counted for Jore should be invalidated.

A voter in the district, Anita Big Springs, filed suit to invalidate the disputed votes. She named Jore as the defendant and won the case, making Windham the winner of the election and giving Democrats a 50-50 tie in the House for the 2005 Legislature.

Big Springs’ attorney, Mike Meloy of Helena, also successfully asked the court to order Jore to pay Meloy’s legal fees. That judgment, with interest, is now more than $18,000.

Last year, Jore extracted a measure of payback, as he ran against Windham one-on-one and won the seat. Ironically, his victory ended up giving Republicans the same edge in the 2007 Legislature that they would have had if he had won the 2005 race: A 50-49 majority, with Jore the only member of the Constitution Party.

But he still owes Meloy more than $18,000, and Meloy says he has obtained an order from the court to garnish Jore’s wages as a legislator.

Meloy said he has held off on executing the order at the request of Cobb, who asked Meloy to wait to see about the outcome of the bill.

Cobb, who said Jore didn’t ask him to introduce the bill, told the committee Monday that Jore shouldn’t be stuck with the bill because he had nothing to do with the invalidated votes or the close count. The votes were invalidated by the Montana Supreme Court because they were double-marked by voters and had no clear indication of which candidate they preferred.

Jore is merely the victim of a law that says the “winning” candidate must be the defendant in a lawsuit challenging the outcome, and therefore can end up having to pay the legal costs of the prevailing party.

The bill had only one opponent Monday: Mark Simonich, representing the secretary of state’s office.

Cobb’s bill says the cost will come out of the secretary of state’s budget.

Simonich said the secretary of state shouldn’t have to foot the bill. He said the office supports a different approach contained in HB52, which says that if someone sues to invalidate votes, they have to pay their own legal fees, regardless of the outcome.

13 Responses to “Senate Bill Aims to Relieve Jore’s Debt”

  1. Joe Says:

    It will be interesting to see how Jore votes on this bill. I think he definitely got a raw deal and shouldn’t have to pay it, but I don’t think the tax payers should foot the bill either. A better one would be to require the person who brings the suit to pay the cost. Or would that make too much sense?

  2. Trent Hill Says:

    Joe, we agree for once. The Republican’s idea is great, but not perfect.
    Although,usually, the taxpayers would pay anyways.

  3. RWR Says:

    “The bill had only one opponent Monday: Mark Simonich, representing the secretary of state’s office.

    Cobb’s bill says the cost will come out of the secretary of state’s budget.

    Simonich said the secretary of state shouldn’t have to foot the bill. He said the office supports a different approach contained in HB52, which says that if someone sues to invalidate votes, they have to pay their own legal fees, regardless of the outcome.”

    I think that is a much fairer idea, and it passed the House twice a couple of weeks ago, each time with an “aye” from Jore.

  4. Chris Says:

    Jore’s persecution is deplorable, as the state conducted it, the state needs to make it right iwth him. And some heads to roll maybe….....

  5. Joey Dauben Says:

    I’m excited to read that Jore is being taken seriously and being a respected member of the House.

    Of course, that might have to do with him holding the balance, ya know?

    Or maybe because he was a former Republican, but still, it’s not like the media hackjob on Ventura when he won.

  6. Joey Dauben Says:

    Btw, didn’t some of you guys say that Jore’s district is heavily militia or something? It’d be interesting to get an analysis of his district for TPW, that way you folks could “see” for yourself, “okay what will it take to get elected in a district like this,” etc., etc.

  7. undercover_anarchist Says:

    Yay, welfare for Jore! I bet if his daughter had sex with a Negro of Chinaman, he would seek a state-funded abortion, too.

  8. John Brown Says:

    Why not? Bob Barr made his ex-wife get one.

    The multiple time married author of the “Defense of Marriage” act is now on the Libertarian National Committee and may be their next presidential candidate, despite his denials.

  9. Chris Says:

    Anarchist, I have met Jore and found him to be something you are not and probably never will be:
    1. Gentleman
    2. Kind
    3. Moral
    4. Clean Thinking
    5. Clean talking
    6. Fair and Honest
    7. Without Calumny
    8. Without Guile
    9.Educated
    10. Prosperous
    11. Faith Filled
    12. Knowledgeable on Issues

    You could, if you did not have filthy sex on the brain and general stupidity, be like him….but you instead would prefer to waddle in the gutter and the slime.

  10. Yosemite1967 Says:

    I’m taking bets on undercover_anarchist being under 30 years old and being educated by the government.

    Any takers?

    How about with three-to-one odds?

  11. Yosemite1967 Says:

    P.S. I agree that HB 52 is a better alternative (having those who brought the suit pay their own expenses). I would even say that SB 117 is immoral, because when you make the state pay, you’re not teaching the state government any lessons—you’re merely authorizing the state government to take the money by force from innocent people who had nothing to do with the controversy.

    Consult the history of Davey Crockett in congress for more on using the government for charity. Like I always say, “It’s uncharitable to be charitable with other people’s money.”

  12. undercover_anarchist Says:

    28 years old
    Public high school
    Catholic university… Where I became an atheist…

  13. Yosemite1967 Says:

    Ah, 1-1/2 out o’ 2—not too bad. :^)

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