get it home page promo

Former PSC commissioner Molnar wins dismissal of second complaint

2013-07-12T00:00:00Z 2013-07-12T13:56:21Z Former PSC commissioner Molnar wins dismissal of second complaintBy MIKE DENNISON IR State Bureau Helena Independent Record
July 12, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Former state Public Service Commissioner Brad Molnar finally won an ethics decision this week, with the dismissal of a second complaint linked to his solicitation of corporate money to fund energy-conservation efforts in 2007 and 2008.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl on Wednesday adopted the recommendation of a state-hired hearings examiner, who said Molnar broke no laws when he asked Wal-Mart and two utilities to help fund conservation events that he sponsored.

Motl then dismissed the complaint, which was filed in 2010 by Mary Jo Fox of Billings, who had managed the campaign of Molnar’s 2008 electoral opponent.

Fox also brought the 2008 complaint against Molnar that led to a ruling from a prior political practices commissioner that Molnar violated state ethics laws, by accepting two $1,000 gifts from power companies and improperly using his state email and computer to help his 2008 re-election campaign.

Molnar fought that complaint for five years, through the commissioner’s office and the courts, which consistently ruled against him.

The Montana Supreme Court in June upheld the decisions against him and $20,200 in fines and costs.

Molnar said Thursday the ruling this week “just shows how subjective these cases are,” and he’s glad Motl saw that he wasn’t trying to imply any influence by soliciting the money.

Fox’s 2010 complaint said Molnar violated ethics law when he accepted $450 from Wal-Mart to publicize a 2007 conservation event and solicited money from NorthWestern Energy and Montana-Dakota Utilities to help fund an energy-saving contest between Miles City and Laurel in 2008.

Both NorthWestern and MDU are regulated by the Public Service Commission. Molnar, a Republican from Laurel, was on the PSC from 2005-2012, representing southeast Montana.

Betsy Griffing, a Missoula attorney and hearings examiner for the case, said last month that since Wal-Mart isn’t regulated by the PSC, there’s no possible “quid pro quo” for Molnar accepting the money.

As for the money from the utilities, Molnar returned a $1,000 check from NorthWestern within a few days of receiving it, and MDU and NorthWestern ended up giving $500 each to the respective chambers of commerce of Miles City and Laurel, to fund the energy-saving contest, she noted.

Griffing said Molnar never accepted a gift, so no violations occurred.

Fox said Thursday she’s satisfied with the penalty and costs imposed on Molnar from her first complaint and that he should pay the money and “put this five-year-plus matter to rest.”

Copyright 2015 Helena Independent Record. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. FlamingLiberal1
    Report Abuse
    FlamingLiberal1 - July 12, 2013 1:47 pm
    The fact is that this guy is crooked as a dog's hind leg. He's got several proven cases against him. This means nothing.

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters. If you receive an error after submitting a comment, please contact us.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps:

    1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

    2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

    3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

    4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

    5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

    6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

    7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

    8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

    9. Don't write a novel. If your comment is longer than the article you're commenting on, you might want to cut it down a bit. Lengthy comments will likely be removed.
Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick


Follow the Independent Record

Great Helena Businesses