Mayor John Engen gave $160 to Missoula City Council candidate Roy Houseman and endorsed him with these words.*
He isn’t donating one red cent to incumbent Councilman John Hendrickson, who took in $800 from the local GOP. But Hendrickson aired an ad that made it sound like the mayor backs the incumbent.
And he’s in trouble for it. According to this news release*, the Missoula County Democrats are filing a complaint** with the Office of Political Practices. They sent over Houseman’s flier above and the radio spot* as well.
This from the release: “I fell out of my chair when I heard John Hendrickson’s ad,” says Missoula County Democrats chairman and Ward 1 councilman Jason Wiener. “I work with both the mayor and Councilman Hendrickson, and nothing could be more misleading about their working relationship than the ad John Hendrickson is paying to run. Trying to grab the coattails of someone Hendrickson antagonizes shows real desperation.”
Hendrickson opposed the mayor’s budget this year and last year. He’s hammered the administration on various fronts, including its work on Malfunction Junction.
Hendrickson declined Thursday to offer much information about the ad until he sees the complaint.
“I took that off (the air)” Hendrickson said. “That only ran one day that I know of.”
He wouldn’t say why he stopped running it, and wouldn’t say whether he knew he was misrepresenting the mayor’s endorsement.
“I’m not going to talk about it,” he said.
Perhaps he’ll be more comfortable Monday with his microphone in front of him. But if he knew, that wouldn’t be good. And if he can’t tell it sounds misleading, well, that’s not good news either, is it?
The complaint isn’t likely to be settled anytime soon, though. Councilman Ed Childers filed one two years ago against his opponent, and it has yet to be resolved by the commissioner of political practices, who faces a backlog.
— Keila Szpaller
** Amended to link to the email version of the complaint.