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April 25, 2017

(Missoula, Montana)  Friday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) denied the application for an emergency injunction filed by Green Party congressional candidate Thomas Breck of Missoula and Independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell of Bozeman.  This action came after month-long efforts by these candidates to obtain ballot access through legal proceedings which they deemed necessary as a result of unconstitutional state ballot access laws.  

On April 8th a federal district court ruled that the law requiring independent and minor party candidates to collect signatures amounting to 5% of the voters for the same office in the last election was, in fact, unconstitutional.  It failed, however, to offer these candidates any relief in this matter.  Feeling it was their only recourse, these candidates appealed first to the Ninth Circuit Court, and then to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In response to Friday’s SCOTUS ruling, Montana Green Party candidate Thomas Breck stated “I am appalled that, despite the fact the law preventing my fellow plaintiffs and myself from receiving access to the ballot was ruled unconstitutional, the federal court system has repeatedly failed to rectify the injustice it posed.  It is the right of every American to vote for the candidate they feel best represents themselves and their ideals.  In this matter, both the Montana Secretary of State and the federal court system have failed to protect the rights of the citizens’ of the great state of Montana.”

He went on to state that “given our failure to meet the deadline to file for write-in candidacy it is my belief that Independent write-in candidate Doug Campbell is the best person to represent those Montanans who share the values I represent.  He is spot on in his belief that we must break the stranglehold of the corporate funded two party system of politics thats exist in this country today.  As such it is my pleasure to formally endorse his candidacy and strongly encourage our supporters to write in the name Doug Campbell when they cast their ballots on May 25th.”

Upon hearing this announcement, Doug Campbell made the following statement: “It is with with honor and humility that I accept the endorsement of Thomas Breck of the Montana Green Party.  Thomas has been a source of inspiration and integrity during our recent court proceedings.  It is a travesty that despite prevailing in that case, no relief was provided by the court to the affected candidates, and is particularly unjust to the highly mobilized and diligent members of the Green Party.  Our combined victory brings justice to future special elections for small party and independent candidates – improving candidate choice and ballot access for all Montanans.  Within the laudable and ambitious agenda of Thomas Breck and the Montana Green Party, I will fully support our shared and near term goals of eliminating corporate control and financial corruption in politics, protecting our environment for future generations, and respecting and defending the Constitutional and human rights of all Montanans. When we wrestle control of government from special interests and put that power back into the hands of individuals, we reduce the burden of government for everyday Montanans.  I am pleased to work towards these goals with the Montana Green Party, and gladly accept Mr. Breck’s endorsement.”

 

April 18, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONTANA GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE TO SEEK INJUNCTIVE RELIEF FROM THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT

(San Francisco, California) On Monday April 17th the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Montana Green Party candidate, Thomas Breck’s, emergency motion requesting injunctive relief by adding him to the May 25th Special Election ballot.

In response to this ruling, Thomas Breck, and Independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell, will be pursuing further legal action by filing an emergency application for an injunction by the Supreme Court Court of the United States (SCOTUS).  

Breck’s campaign stated, “We are disappointed in the failure of the Ninth Circuit Court to issue an injunction requiring the Montana Secretary of State to add the Montana Green Party’s candidate, Thomas Breck, to the special election ballot.  It is the constitutional right of each American to be given the opportunity to vote for a candidate that represents their ideals.  We believe that for many Montanans this candidate is Thomas Breck. As such, it is our duty to these voters to continue our effort to obtain the ballot access that was denied us on the basis of an unconstitutional state law.”

April 11, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

MONTANA GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE APPEALS DISTRICT

COURT RULING TO THE NINTH CIRCUIT

 

(Great Falls, Montana) Montana Green Party candidate Thomas Breck of Missoula and independent candidates Steve Kelly and Doug Campbell of Bozeman have appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in response to Federal District Judge Brian Morris’s failure to order their names onto the May 25th special election ballot.

The April 8th ruling concluded that the 5% signature requirement “severely burdens the constitutional rights of ballot access for independent candidates and minor party candidates” in this special election. It goes on to grant the plaintiffs’ injunction with the determination that a fair number of signatures for such candidates to collect in the given time frame was 400. However, as none of these candidates had done this by the March 6th deadline, the court declined to order them onto the ballot.

Kelly responded to the ruling, stating, “All three branches — legislative, executive, and judicial — have a sworn oath to protect and defend our constitutional rights.  All three branches have failed the plaintiffs in this case, and the people looking for candidates advocating a new way forward.”

Campbell responded that he had received just shy of the 400 electronic petition signatures (e-signatures) prior to the March 6 deadline. The Secretary of State (SOS) had tentatively approved this format on the initial receipt of Campbell’s candidacy filing, however later they declined to accept them.

On April 9, Thomas Breck’s campaign launched a statewide effort to collect the required 400 signatures. Plaintiffs’ counsel contacted SOS’s counsel with the request that he accept this petition.  This request was denied; thus the plaintiffs filed an emergency Motion to Stay the SOS from printing ballots or sending ballots to overseas voters, pending their appeal.  On Tuesday April 11th the court granted the plaintiffs’ Motion to Stay the printing of ballots, but denied the stay on sending them overseas.

Breck’s campaign stated, “We are pleased that the court acknowledged the unconstitutional  burden the current 5% signature requirement placed on independent and minor party candidates’. However we are shocked by the court’s failure to take action to remedy this matter. We’re confident that our assembly of 600 signatures in 7 hours will prove beyond measure that the Montana Green Party Candidate, Thomas Breck, has the “substantial modicum of support” the law requires.”

 

 

By Jon King April 10, 2017 1:00 PM

http://newstalkkgvo.com/mt-green-party-appeals-to-9th-circuit-to-get-on-ballot/

Montana Green Party Candidate Thomas Breck’s name is not on the ballots being sent out to military and overseas voters today, however Breck is still optimistic he can get on the next batch of ballots.

A decision late Saturday night, April 8, by District Court Judge Brian Morris agreed with Breck’s original complaint that the requirement of 14,000 signatures in just six days was unreasonable. Even though Morris dropped the threshold to 400, Breck believes the ruling is still unfair and has appealed to a higher court.

“[Morris] didn’t give us a pathway forward,” Breck said. Considering the time and effort that goes into a campaign to get 14,000 signatures, it would take weeks and weeks to plan, before you can even attempt to get signature 1, giving us only six days and then faulting us for not getting any signatures with the expectation of 14,000 still in place seems unreasonable, so we’ve appealed to the ninth Circuit Court.”

Breck thinks he will win in the ninth circuit court, and says he has proof from over the weekend that the 400 signatures would have been easily attainable, if that were the original threshold.

“The whole premise for the 400 signatures was to show that there is a modicum of support for us, considering that we got well over 500 signatures on one day, on a Sunday, when we didn’t even start until 3:00 p.m. because we couldn’t locate a notary, shows that we do have a modicum of support and we do deserve a place on the ballot,” Breck said.

Breck said the Montana Green Party gathered around 10 signatures during the initial filing, but that the low number is because the 14,000 goal seemed insurmountable for a start-up candidate. No matter what happens to the ballot, Breck says he will be running as a write-in candidate and that the Green Party will play a role in the 2018 elections.

Read More: MT Green Party Appeals to 9th Circuit To Get on Ballot | http://newstalkkgvo.com/mt-green-party-appeals-to-9th-circuit-to-get-on-ballot/?trackback=tsmclip

By Indy Staff

As the Montana Green Party prepared to convene in early March for its first convention in years, party coordinator Danielle Breck figured to be planning for the long term. She certainly didn’t expect to jump into the fray this spring for the election to fill Ryan Zinke’s vacant congressional seat. But then she got a call from a lawyer in Atlanta.

Breck says civil rights litigator Bryan Sells offered to represent third-party candidates in Montana in a lawsuit over the state’s handling of ballot access in the upcoming special election. The complaint? That Gov. Steve Bullock’s scheduling allowed just six days for minor political parties to gather the roughly 14,000 signatures that state law requires to put a candidate on the ballot. That hardly gave the Green Party, which counted 13 voting members at its March 4 convention, much time to get its candidate, Danielle Breck’s husband, Thomas Breck, on the ballot.

“It’s not exactly fair,” Danielle Breck says.

The Brecks are now part of a lawsuit seeking to allow third parties the right to run in the May 25 election without meeting the signature requirement. (Danielle Breck says Sells is representing them pro bono.) Thomas Breck and Bozeman-based Independent Steve Kelly are named as plaintiffs.

The case is the latest wrench to be thrown into an already screwy election. The Montana Libertarian Party, which automatically qualifies for the ballot based on past election performance, has already scuffled with the secretary of state’s office over the deadline for nominating its candidate, Mark Wicks. Meanwhile, the Montana Legislature is still engaged in a partisan showdown over whether to allow voting by mail in the special election.

Now enter the Greens, fielding a candidate for statewide office for the first time since the 2004 gubernatorial election. The Green Party will present its case before a federal judge in Great Falls on April 4, and Breck says Montana’s 56 counties have until April 9 to print ballots. Most counties already have printed theirs. Reprinting them to include Breck and Kelly would cost those counties thousands of dollars.

That’s not Breck’s concern. She and her fellow Greens are busy waging a battle for equal access. That battle that may not be costing them anything, but it could rack up quite a tab for the rest of us.

by in Campaigns

The special election process to replace Congressman Ryan Zinke as Montana’s sole representative in the U.S. House is being challenged in court.

Three plaintiffs are suing Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, challenging the Big Sky state’s onerous ballot access rules and questionable election schedule. Green Party nominee Thomas Breck, independent candidate Steve Kelly, and Green Party voter Danielle Breck filed the suit earlier this month.

Their primary contention is the signature requirement for ‘nonqualified’ parties and independents. Presently, the Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian parties are the only three qualified parties in the state, according to the secretary of state.

For everyone else, there are additional obstacles to overcome in order to obtain ballot access. Independent candidates and candidates of nonqualified parties must submit enough signatures to equal “5% or more of the total vote cast for the successful candidate for the same office at the last general election,” and do so 82 days before the election.

For Rep. Zinke’s seat, that amounts to more than 14,000 signatures, which would have to be gathered within a matter of days.

From the complaint:

“On [March 1, 2017], Montana Governor Steve Bullock ordered a special election to fill the vacancy. He set the election for May 25, 2017 – 85 days following the vacancy – which was the earliest date allowed by Montana law. Mont. Code Ann. § 10-25-203…

Independent and minor-party candidates, on the other hand, can appear on the special-election ballot only if the candidate or party submits declaration and oath of candidacy form and a nominating petition containing a sufficient number of signatures no later than 82 days before the election. Mont. Code Ann. §§ 13-25-205(2), 13-10-503.”

According to the Daily Chronicle, Kelly and Breck have not yet received notice from Sec. Stapleton as to whether or not they will appear on the special election ballot.

A hearing for the case is scheduled for April 4, but it is unlikely that the plaintiff’s grievances will be resolved before Montana voters head to the polls on May 25.

http://www.ktvq.com/clip/13201128/2-men-sue-to-be-added-to-ballot-for-montana-special-congressional-election

BILLINGS –

Montana’s special congressional election is just weeks away, but two more candidates are fighting to get their names on the ballot.

A lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Great Falls, names Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton as the defendant.

The complaint was filed by Missoula’s Thomas Breck, a member of the Green Party, and Bozeman’s Steve Kelly, an Independent.

Breck and Kelly said in the complaint that they want to run for the vacant U.S. House Seat, which was left empty when former Congressman Ryan Zinke was elevated to the U.S. Department of Interior.

According to the complaint, Breck and Kelly are suing to get their names on the May 25 special election ballot and to change policies for future elections.

Democrat Rob Quist, Republican Greg Gianforte, and Libertarian Mark Wicks will all be listed on the ballot.

The lawsuit alleges unfair campaign policies for the Green Party and Independent Candidates.

The deadline for the two parties to submit a petition to be included on the May 25 ballot was May 6, just five days after the date for the special election was announced by Gov. Steve Bullock (D-Montana).

The two men were selected at nominating conventions for their respective parties, but under Montana law, they must collect signatures if the parties did not collect more than 5 percent of the vote in the last two general elections.

The complaint alleges that, unlike major party candidates, the Green Party and Independents had just one week to garner the necessary 14,268 signatures to get on the ballot.

“Even Superman couldn’t pull that off,” Kelly said in a press statement.

Breck said pursuing the issue through the courts is not ideal, but added that there seemed to be no other way.

“The current state of our political system presents limited courses of action for individuals who are not wealthy or well connected, but nonetheless have the desire to represent their friends and neighbors within this system,” said Breck in the press statement.

“This is about the constitutionally protected freedom of each of us to vote for a representative that we feel actually stands for our ideals. This is about bringing a voice to Montanans who are repeatedly excluded from the conversation,” he said.

Breck and Kelly are seeking a decision before the April 10 deadline for ballot printing.

Stapleton has yet to respond to the complaint.

A trio of plaintiffs, including two from the Montana Green Party, are suing the Montana secretary of state in federal court to put two more candidates onto the special election ballot for U.S. House of Representatives.

The lawsuit against Secretary of State Corey Stapleton was filed by Thomas and Danielle Breck of Missoula, and Steve Kelly of Bozeman, in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Wednesday.

It says that Thomas Breck was selected on March 4 as the Montana Green Party’s nominee for the coming congressional election to replace Ryan Zinke, now secretary of the interior, as Montana’s lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

 It also says that Kelly would like to run as an independent candidate in the same election to be held on May 25.

According to the lawsuit, Stapleton incorrectly published the candidate filing deadline and that Breck and Kelly submitted their declaration and oath of candidacy but have not received a response.

Neither was able to collect the tens of thousands of signatures required of non-qualified minor-party and independent candidates in the short time frame.

And because there’s no special signature requirement, they argue that Montana’s ballot-access laws violate their constitutional rights.

“What it boils down to is a long-standing line of Supreme Court cases that say ballot-access restrictions implicate the First Amendment’s right of association and it’s the 14th Amendment that makes it applicable to the states,” said Georgia attorney Bryan Sells who is representing the plaintiffs.

He added that adding the names of the two candidates would vindicate the voting rights of all Montanans who want the choice of a Green Party or independent candidate in the special election.

A spokeswoman for the secretary of state did not respond to a request for comment.

Libertarian Mark Wicks, Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte have been qualified for the special election ballot.

Troy Carter can be reached at 582-2630 or tcarter@dailychronicle.com. He’s on Twitter at @cartertroy.

Tate Samata / Montana Kaimin @tatesamta

2016 Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein skypes with a group of Missoula green Party supporters during a statewide convention held March 4, at the Payne Native American Center.

The smells of vegetarian chili and gluten-free squash soup wafted through the Payne Family Native American Center while environmental entrepreneurs, veterans and tribal leaders worked to shape the future of the Montana Green Party.

For the first time in 10 years, the Montana Greens held a statewide convention on Saturday at the University of Montana to update their platform, appoint officers and nominate a candidate for the upcoming special election. The event was highlighted by an hour-long video chat with 2016 presidential candidate Jill Stein.

Throughout the day-long convention, representatives from local progressive groups and eco-businesses preached against so-called neo-fascism, oligarchies and classism, and also addressed the difficulties of engaging voters.

“We’re all here for the same reason,” said Nathan Hansen, founder of Re:Industries, a local recycling startup. “We’re losing our rights, and we simply do not have a voice anymore.”

Danielle Breck, a philosophy student at UM and newly appointed Green Party coordinator, said the group of about 20 attendees was working to build coalitions with organizations across the vast rural stretches of Montana. She said the party hopes to tap into rural and native communities that have not been adequately represented in any level of government.

“Such a small percentage of people in those communities vote because they have seen themselves go unrepresented by the two-party system,” Breck said. “It isn’t news if we put a Green on the Missoula City Council, but if we can get into these rural areas, then I think we can really start being heard.”

Democrats have become too moderate for many progressives, according to Breck. She said the Green Party holds positions more closely aligned with the Bernie Sanders campaign and believes more young people are realizing the difficulties of changing the Democratic establishment.

Montana Democrats and Republicans held nominating conventions this weekend for the state’s sole U.S. House seat vacated by Ryan Zinke’s recent appointment to secretary of the interior. Breck said the Green Party nominee, her husband Thomas Breck, had a slim chance of getting the thousands of signatures needed to be on the ballot.

According to Thomas Breck, the victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton was a good thing for American democracy. He said the shock of Trump’s unexpected win could help to eliminate the political complacency of many Americans.

“This is just the stone being dropped in the pond. It’s the ripples that are going to really create change,” he said.

In a Facebook post after he was nominated, Breck said he was confident the Greens could get enough signatures to be on the special election ballot.

At around 2 p.m. Saturday, Jill Stein began her Skype conference with the attendants, reiterating her pride in their enthusiasm. Despite some technical difficulties and interference from her mischievous orange tabby cat, Willy, Stein spent an hour offering advice and voicing her concerns. She talked about the need to recruit the Bernie Sanders supporters who were feeling disenfranchised by the Democratic Party.

“The failure of Bernie just shows that the solution isn’t going to come from Democrats,” she said. “You can’t have a revolutionary candidate in an anti-revolutionary party.”

After her microphone came unplugged, Stein held up the culprit, Willy the cat, inspiring chants of “Willy for president” from the convention-goers.

matthew.neuman@umontana.edu

@Matt_Neuman_

 

 

 

http://www.kpax.com/clip/13151073/green-partys-stein-inspires-montana-members-to-start-coalitions

The Montana Green Party held a statewide conference to discuss coalitions in hopes of creating real change within communities.