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Divorce and old threats emerge in state auditor race

Divorce and old threats emerge in state auditor race

  • Updated
  • 9
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Court records alleging threats of violence and an attempt to underpay child support have come to light late in the race for Montana's state auditor. 

Troy Downing, the Republican in the race, was accused in 2005 by his ex-wife of threatening to kill her, which she testified to under oath in a San Diego, Calif. family court. The alleged threat occurred in 2002.

Laura Downing testified she and Troy had separated and were no longer living together. One evening she showed up at the house unannounced to tell the children goodnight and make arrangements for the morning, she testified.

"Troy was livid and did not want to let me enter the house," Laura Downing stated. "As I passed by him to enter, he said, 'I'm gonna kill you, maybe tonight.'"

Downing on Thursday denied making threatening statements to his ex-wife. 

"I categorically deny the accusation made," he said. "The judge who presided over this case saw no credibility and dismissed my ex-wife’s motions."

Laura's Downing's testimony detailed her deteriorating relationship with Troy Downing and was part of a suit to restructure their divorce settlement. The details appear in court documents from the Downings' separation, divorce, child custody, and child support proceedings that began in 2002 and stretched into 2009 in San Diego.

In her court declaration, she talked about her mental health struggles and the issues it created in the marriage. She added that is was exacerbated by Troy Downing's long absences while on active duty with the Air Force. 

"For the sake of our children, I am happy that my ex-wife is staying functional and productive," Downing said on Thursday.

He explained that their divorce started when a bad reaction to prescription drugs and marijuana, along with her anxiety and depression, led to her calling 911 one night under the belief she had harmed their children. She hadn't. 

The episode led to her being taken into custody for psychiatric evaluation, Troy Downing said. The details are confirmed by Laura Downing in her court testimony in 2005. 

Four years later, in early 2009, Laura Downing sought to modify the child support payment agreement between the two, arguing that Troy Downing's income allowed him to pay more. 

The court found that Troy Downing was earning $25,000 a month, an amount he had contested, and that he had failed to meet the burden of proof that his gross monthly income was less than $25,000. 

He was then ordered to pay $2,894 a month in child support for his two children. 

"My ex-wife and I periodically discussed child support. We always came to an agreement. I always paid in full and on-time, until the children turned 18," he said.

Downing is running against Democrat Shane Morigeau. 

Troy Downing is an Air Force veteran who served twice in Afghanistan and  recently ran for the U.S. Senate in a field of four Republicans trying to unseat Sen. Jon Tester in 2018. Downing has been a real estate developer and launched his own self-storage insurance business.

During that Senate race, Downing briefly took the spotlight when accusations surfaced about his buying less expensive in-state hunting and fishing licenses as an out-of-state resident. A month after the primary election, he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors for obtaining the in-state hunting and fishing licenses between 2011 and 2016 while living in California.

Downing again found himself in trouble with the state earlier this summer when the state's Commissioner of Political Practice Jeff Mangan determined that he committed seven campaign finance violations while running in the state auditor primary in June.

Downing has called the claims "incredibly minor."

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