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Spokesperson: Gianforte staffer fired

Early voting in Butte

Joyce Mandau stamps ballots as they are hand delivered by voters, while another member of the Butte-Silver Bow County election staff checks to make sure ballots are signed before being placed in a secure ballot box on Tuesday afternoon at the courthouse.

A staffer for the governor campaign of Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte was fired after documents surfaced suggesting he vandalized a vehicle in downtown Bozeman last week.

Former campaign political director Dan Duffey was let go by the campaign as soon as they learned of the incident, a spokesman confirmed Monday evening.

Duffey could not immediately be reached for comment via a text message.

The election is Nov. 3 and Gianforte is running against Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney.

Over the weekend, Bozeman resident Andre Zollars posted on Twitter that Duffey had vandalized her daughter's vehicle in downtown Bozeman.

A copy of a "crash name exchange" document, which is meant to exchange information between parties involved in an incident, was provided to Lee Newspapers. It named Duffey as the owner of a vehicle involved in an incident Oct. 26 in downtown Bozeman.

According to that document, the driver of Duffey's vehicle opened his truck door and struck the side of another vehicle several times, causing visible damage.

Interim Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp said Monday that his department received the initial report of the incident last Wednesday, two days after it occurred.

An officer conducted an investigation and determined the parties involved, and Veltkamp said at that point both parties agreed to work out the issue between themselves. Veltkamp declined to confirm the identity of the driver pending any charges being filed.

"That's the reason the officer didn't issue any citations or do anything at the time," Veltkamp said. The officer facilitated the exchange of information so the parties could work it out with their insurance companies.

"At some point after that time, the status of the case has changed, meaning one party it appears does want the other party charged," Veltkamp said.

An officer will now conduct an investigation to determine if charges will be referred to the county attorney.

If charges are filed, they will be submitted to the Gallatin County Attorney's Office. For cases like this, those submissions are made on Thursdays, Veltkamp said.

The officer starts his work week Tuesday, and Veltkamp said he was unsure when information could be sent to the county attorney's office.

The police chief was unable to confirm who was involved in the case since charges had not been filed. Veltkamp, however, said that his officers had no knowledge of the employment association of any party involved in the case.

"He knew nothing about either one, and that did not affect how the investigation proceeded at all," Veltkamp said.

Most of these types of cases, Veltkamp said, are settled without charges being filed.

"The two parties want to work something out civilly and therefor no charges are made and no citations are written. That does sometimes change," Veltkamp said.

The county attorney's office is the one who would decide if and what kind of charges are filed.

Lee Newspapers reached out to Zollars late Monday for comment.

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