Montana GOP U.S. Senate Candidate Troy Downing Faces Trial For Multiple Hunting Violations

Politicians using their power to help themselves? Unheard of! According to Bozeman Daily Journal, U.S. Senate candidate Troy Downing wants a Gallatin County judge to throw out several charges alleging he was not a Montana resident when he bought resident hunting licenses, claiming past accountants made errors in his tax filings.

Christopher Williams, Downing’s attorney, filed a pretrial motion in Gallatin County Justice Court and said the residency status on the Big Sky businessman’s tax returns are in the process of being corrected. He asked that those documents be redacted from the court’s records.

Downing is facing seven misdemeanors for unlawful purchase of or applying for a resident license by a nonresident. The citations accuse him of illegally buying licenses in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

The Republican candidate pleaded not guilty to the charges at an appearance August 23 in Gallatin County Justice Court. A three-day trial is scheduled to start May 23, two weeks before the state’s primary election.

At least he’s providing his tax returns. FIVE times, his accountant screwed up? Why would we want this guy working as a senator when he can’t even keep his own accountant in check.

Downing has taken the necessary steps to amend his tax returns from 2012 through 2014 and fix the residency discrepancy that pertains to five of the nine citations, according to court documents. Downing couldn’t amend his 2011 tax return, Williams maintains, because Brian Lloyd, the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden who investigated the case, didn’t tell him of the issue until it was too late to correct the older returns.

The law is inconvenient to him plain and simple. Why is he complaining of the 180 day waiting period when he supposedly lived there for years?

Furthermore, Williams said the state’s laws requiring people to live in Montana for 180 days to qualify for a resident license holds citizens “captive.” He said the law has directly violated Downing’s rights to work and travel.

“A person must be physically captive within Montana for 180 consecutive days regardless of whether their employment or familial obligations require travel out of state,” Williams said in the court documents.

Now he is an uneducated citizen?

Again, why would we trust this guy with big decisions.

Residency requirements, he said, have turned FWP game wardens into a police force that investigates unsuspecting citizens and treats them as criminals because of travel and employment requirements. Instead, Williams suggested FWP should be educating residents and helping them avoid the pitfalls of the state’s rigid and complex residency requirements.

“FWP’s efforts to document our citizens’ movements in this regard are more akin to George Orwell’s Big Brother,” he said.

Those darned twitter posts did him in.

Williams also asked to exclude evidence at Downing’s May trial that includes posts from Downing’s blog and Twitter account, as well as cellphone records that warden Lloyd said suggested Downing’s time in Montana was “seasonal at best.” The state plans to use the evidence against him to show that he had a phone number with an out-of-state area code and referred to a Sleeping Indian Vineyard in Fallbrook, California, as being “home” at the time he had received Montana licenses.

Downing was also cited for transferring a hunting license to another person and for assisting an unqualified applicant in obtaining a hunting license. Those citations were not addressed in the pretrial motions.

Let’s see what he tries to conjure up to explain why he would “loan” someone his illegal license.

The citation for transferring a license accuses him of loaning a 2011 Montana elk license to another for killing a bull elk. And the citation for assisting an unqualified applicant accuses him of helping his nonresident son obtain Montana resident conservation, deer and elk licenses in 2015.

According to a search warrant application written by warden Lloyd, the investigation into Downing’s residency began in 2013 when the Montana Department of Revenue asked FWP to look into whether Downing met residency requirements for Montana hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. DOR said it believed Downing had illegally purchased resident licenses.

Downing recently had to defend his residency status at a Republican Senate debate held by College Republicans at Montana State University. The Republican was asked to ease concerned voters and address the alleged misdemeanor charges against him. Downing said the citations were clearly an orchestrated attack and that hunting and fishing have been a big part of his life.

“I plan on fighting it, and I will win this,” Downing said at the debate.

AND he is trying to get tax breaks in California? WTF.

The Chronicle also confirmed with the San Diego assessor’s office that Downing had been receiving a tax exemption for a home he owns in Fallbrook, California, about 60 miles north of San Diego. Downing has received the exemption since 2005, which is for homeowners if the home is their primary residence.

In response to the Chronicle’s initial reporting on the details from FWP’s investigation, Downing’s campaign manager Kevin Gardner called the investigation an orchestrated attack on Downing.

A witch hunt? I think not. You are a poacher sir.

“It’s unfortunate the liberal Montana FWP deep state is on a witch hunt,” he said.

Downing plans to call his new accountant Majorie Knaub and Spencer McInvaille, a digital forensic technician, as expert witnesses in the trial.

Downing is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2018 along with State Auditor Matt Rosendale, state Sen. Albert Olszewski of Kalispell and former Billings judge Russell Fagg. Campaign contribution filings show Downing leads with roughly $857,000 raised, Rosendale $764,000, Fagg $615,000 and Olszewski $209,000.

Justice of the Peace Bryan Adams has not ruled on the pretrial motions.

I don’t care what political party you stand behind, poaching is illegal. As it should be.

comments

  1. avatar pwrserge says:

    I don’t care what political party you stand behind, poaching is not a thing in a free country. In the US we don’t get arrested for hunting the King’s deer.

    1. avatar mrwiz says:

      Congratulations, you sir have posted the dumbest thing I’ve read on the internet today. I award you no points, and may god have mercy on your soul.

      Wildlife in this country is the property of the people, not the king. The Montana FWP is the steward of the people of Montana’s deer.

      Mr. Downing, an aspiring member of our ruling class of elites, tried to have his cake (lower property taxes in his home state of California) while eating it too (claiming in-state residence in Montana for lower hunting license fees). Rules are for the little people, not aspiring kings like Mr. Downing.

      The only injustice in this case will be the hand slap sentence Mr. Downing will receive for defrauding the people of Montana once he is convicted.

      1. avatar AdamTA1 says:

        It would be amusing if having his tax returns changed helped him in Montana and then CA went after him for tax evasion due to the discounts he was taking in that state.

      2. avatar Chris Mallory says:

        Ok, if wildlife is the property of “the people”, I am going to claim my ownership rights and go bag some deer. When modern politicians say “the people” they really mean “The King”.

    2. avatar rocketscientist says:

      agree. if he owns property in Montana or can produce a stupid drivers license or utility bill WHO THE FCK CARES. I have seen some bizarre hunting prosecution stuff lately. There is plenty of real abuse going on without having to forensically figure out if someone did something minor (at tax payer expense). even real crime has a thing called prosecutorial descretion. and the word “poaching” can mean literally everything and it is starting to lose it’s meaning.

    3. avatar Flinch says:

      Montana and Alaska are the playgrounds of the rich and wannabe famous. We get this crap all the time. Someone only wants to be from Montana when it saves them money or they want to run for office.

      Every year the well-heeled complain and moan about our resident requirements. We’ve heard it all. If the Big Sky Bozo in this new story had just paid the fee this would all be a non-issue. But instead, like all these crooked self-centered lying politicians, it’s pure unadulterated greed that gets them in trouble. He wanted to cheat Montana out of a few hundred dollars. How’d that work out for you Mr. Arshole?

      1. avatar rocketscientist says:

        You may very well be right in his case, and I am curious-does he own property in Montana? I honestly don’t know, but IMO the taxes associated with owning property SHOULD (again IMO) get you all the perks residents enjoy even if that is not your primary residence. It is not like they give you a significant tax break because it is a secondary house (or third). I am by no means rich, but if i was I would be pissed at throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars on a place in-state and still being treated as a tourist.

        1. avatar AngryAZ says:

          This if you pay the taxes none of their business where you sleep…. The whole poaching game is a dirty rectal probe opportunity for government be IMO

    4. avatar henry bowman says:

      So either this guy or a party of gun grabbing, open border, anti White, Anti American scum bags? I wonder who I would support….

  2. avatar TommyG says:

    That 180 days requirement is abuse. In fact I am against all non-resident hunting licenses fees. A non-resident hunter brings IN revenue to a state that wouldn’t be there if he didn’t travel there to hunt.

    1. avatar Rincoln says:

      Those licenses are often subsidized by the state income tax. I don’t disagree with non-resident permits. Nor do I disagree with permitting, when done properly. No individual can know the current animal population and the number required to maintain that population. Any and all fees should be directed to the maintenance of said population. This ensures fair access for everyone.

      Do I think this is the current case? No…

  3. avatar Randy says:

    … and what state issued his driver’s license, and which state was he registered to vote? Those, along with his fed tax records, should settle this matter.

  4. avatar Inigo Carmine says:

    A lot of people in the firearm community bemoan the decline of hunting. Perhaps that it sounds like less fun than getting auditted by the IRS is one of those reasons.

  5. avatar DrewN says:

    Honestly, this might be something that never occurred to me. If my accountant said “you can file in state a or state b, a is cheaper”, I probably would never connect that to my hunting license, because they are such different topics. At least the first year. I’d probably figure it out the next time i had to renew though.

  6. avatar henry bowman says:

    So either this guy or a party of gun grabbing, open border, anti White, Anti American scum bags? I wonder who I would support….

  7. avatar ironicatbest says:

    The arresting fish and game officer will probably have to seek employment in another State as is what happened to my son who arrested a police officer for no fishing license and refused to drop the charges when ask to ” just let it slide”

  8. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

    You know, some hunting tips or stories (like you’ve done before) would be cool in addition to the “Person Busted for Hunting Violation” articles. I know it’s unsolicited advice, but just FWIW.

    1. avatar OmnivorousBeorn says:

      For instance, Jeremy S has piqued my interest in turkey hunting, and I doubt I’m alone, so that’d be a good article.

      Again, I’m sorry for being a helpful harry. Maybe think of it was a request. =)

  9. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    We in the Rocky Mountain states suffer from no shortage of financially successful, urbanites who buy (and often subsequently wreck) ranches and rural properties to play at being a bucolic westerner. Many from the coasts try to play tax domicile games on these properties; they don’t actually live at their MT/WY/CO/NM/UT/ID properties, but they want to declare themselves to be domiciled in these states (especially Wyoming, where we have no state income tax) to avoid the state taxes in CA, NY, MA, etc. Some of these people buy enough undeveloped land to gain access to “landowner tags,” but want to be able to fly in, shoot something and leave – effectively buying themselves priority in the tag-issuance systems. In some states, full-time residents of the states will have to apply for 2 to 20 years to get some large-animal tags; some of the landowner tags get the very wealthy around the need to accumulate preference points over a series of years.

    Along the way, the states decided that, in order to be more equitable about the tag distribution, the best way to head off a revolt of the state’s resident hunters is to tighten up on the resident eligibility requirements. In MT, it’s 180 days of residence in the state before you’re considered a resident, and some other states, there needs to be 180 or 181 days, any 180/181 days, the prior year, spent in-state. Utah was one of those states, last I looked.

    In Wyoming, you have to have been a resident for 1 year before you’re considered a resident. None other than our current congressman, Liz Cheney, ran afoul of this requirement when purchasing a resident fishing license after she had been in-state for only about six months. If you pay income tax, are registered to vote, or apply for resident tags in another state, Wyoming considers that you are not a resident of the state of Wyoming for the purposes of applying for hunting/fishing licenses.

    The point that many of you don’t understand here is that for several western states, the tag demand is so high, and the game available is so low, you could be applying and not drawing tags for years and years as a resident. Some rich people can either contract through an outfitter in some states (because some states have pools of tags that they allow the outfitters to sell, as long as the hunter buying it uses the services of the outfitter), land owner tags and other special pool tags allow rich outsiders to skirt the laws that result in most resident hunters having to wait – possibly for years – to draw a tag. In Nevada, I applied for an elk tag for more than 10 years – never drew one. If I had owned a ranch over in White Pine County, I could probably have drawn a land owner tag and hunted elk every year. All I needed was about $4 to $10 mil in spare change to buy a ranch south of Ely…

    If F&G departments in western states did away with the restrictions on residency and the increased prices (and lower numbers) of non-resident tags, there would be a savage revolt in a week – legislators would find a way to punish F&G departments and punish them hard, because the hate and discontent being visited upon state legislators would dwarf anything you’ve ever seen.

    One of the reasons why this is subject that gets so many western hunters so mad is that in most states, the oldest native residents remember a time from the 60’s and 70’s when you could buy tags across the counter, without all this lottery BS. The reasons for this lottery BS was the numbers of people flooding into the mountain west, and the monetization of non-resident tags for the benefit of F&G departments. This is a really sore subject in western states – those of you who aren’t from western states should think carefully and hard before opening your mouths about this subject if you’re standing inside the borders of a western state… If you think arguments about gun control and abortion get heated – you ain’t seen nuthin’.

    As for the above candidate for office? He’s guilty. Guilty as sin. The evidence is the use of the resident tax exemption on a home in California at the same time he’s trying to claim domicile in Montana. All over, done, nothing to argue about. He is not a resident of Montana.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      About that 180 day requirement –

      If your home is in Wyoming and your work takes you out-of-state overnight, say, once a month or so, that resident will never qualify for a resident hunting permit?

      ““A person must be physically captive within Montana for 180 consecutive days regardless of whether their employment or familial obligations require travel out of state,” Williams said in the court documents.”

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        The Wyoming requirement is that you establish unbroken residency in Wyoming for 365 days prior to applying for a resident license. Traveling out of Wyoming overnight isn’t an issue. The state uses the indicators of a domicile: eg you own property in Wyoming which you declare as your residential address, that you’re registered to vote at that address, have a Wyoming driver’s license, CCW, etc, that you not pay income taxes in another state, or declare any address in another state as your residential address, nor apply for any license as a resident in another state.

    2. avatar AubreyB629 says:

      As as resident of Montana, i can say you hit the nail right on the head. This is EXACTLY this issue faced in all of the rocky mountain states

  10. avatar Ranger Rick says:

    Mr. Downing seems to a “smart” person, but he appears to do a lot of dumbs things. The question for voters in Montana is a dummy good for them?

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