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Downing, Nicol, Tuxbury face off in GOP auditor primary: Troy Downing


Troy Downing

Big Sky businessman Troy Downing is facing off against Billings insurance company employee Nelly Nicol and Helena insurance agent Scott "Tux" Tuxbury in the Republican primary to select the candidate who will advance to the general election in the race for Matt Rosendale's place as Montana auditor.

The office regulates insurance and securities in Montana.

First-term Auditor Rosendale is not running for re-election and instead is one of five candidates in the Republican primary in the race for Montana's U.S. House seat.

Downing said he wants to use his experience to makes securities and insurance better in Montana.

"I'm running because I have a lot that I want to do in that office," Downing said. "I have experience in both the securities industry and in the insurance industry, and there's been things that have bugged me in there. There's been things on a regulatory level that have made it hard for businesses to do business and there are parts that I have seen where there is bad actors with a complete void of truism who have tried to mislead, defraud, cheat the consumers and both of those bug me."

"... I'm excited about this office because it gives me a platform to deal with everything that I've seen in these two complicated and highly regulated industries."

He said the other thing he is excited about is having a seat on the Montana Land Board.

The land board is managing the state's trust lands that were set aside to fund education, he said, mainly through instruments like grazing leases, ag leases, timber permits, drilling and so on.

He said those acts are supporting the backbone of Montana's economy and raising money that goes toward K-12 public education.

"This gives me an opportunity to sit and make decisions on that land board that affect not only the biggest industries in the state, but also funding for education," Downing said. "I kind of take a chapter out of the Bureau of Land Management Act of the idea of multiple use and sustained yield, and multiple use really means multiple use. It doesn't mean my use or your use it means multiple use."

He would advocate sustained use, he said, "doing it the way that you can do it forever, so be true stewards of the land, and don't use it in the way you leave scorched earth, use it in a way you can continue supporting that backbone of our economy for generation after generation while you continue to try to grow that funding for education."

He said his background would help him in the position.

"I really think you need to have somebody in there that understands how businesses can thrive or what the regulatory hurdles are, and what you can do to protect Montana consumers," he added. "I think I'm the best candidate because I'm the only one who has run any kind of large organization and this is a large organization. I have a business background in multiple industries, I think that what we need in government is more private sector ideas, I think we need directors that aren't just status quo bureaucrats. I think we need people who understand how things work in the private sector and start cleaning things up."

He said he not only built businesses, created jobs, had large organizational experience, but also has practical experience in the securities industry, sold and managed securities and built a nationwide insurance company from the ground up and so on.

Downing said the primary job of the auditor's office is as a consumer protection agency, a regulatory agency to protect consumers in the securities and insurance industry.

A way to do that is making it easier for businesses to do business in Montana, he said, and getting out of the way on the minutia of regulation that aren't actually protecting consumers, regulations that create paperwork that is never used and starts streamlining that.

If the state starts to make insurance more business-friendly and more competition is brought in, that will create more consumer choice and puts a downward on pricing, he said, it is ultimately helping the consumer by helping these businesses do business in Montana and to thrive.

"As a consumer protective agency, it is not just protecting the consumer against bad actors, it is allowing business to thrive so that they can create more options and better pricing for the consumer," he added. 

He said he wants to see in the office a continued review of the regulatory environment, start seeing regulations that are not protecting consumers, change the culture of the regulators that they are pro-business not 100 percent trying to make it difficult for a business, but actually being supportive of the business while protecting the consumers.

"I think changing the culture from a strict just government regulatory agency to something that a has a little more business sense I think it's good for the Montana consumers, I think it's good for business, I think it's good for all of us, so I want to start seeing that kind of a culture change," Downing said. "Another thing I want to see is I want to see transparency in all things government and not just transparency in that office, but I want to start pushing for transparency in businesses that are regulated by it." 

He said he thinks creating opportunity and choice for the Montana consumers such as Medi-Share that the current auditor Matt Rosendale is trying to bring back and people need to do their homework and make sure it is appropriate for them.

"I think having choice is always good and I think it's up to the individual to decide on those tools in that toolbox of which one is best fit for them and their families, hopefully that creates more options, more competition and I think that's ultimately good for the consumer," he added. 

He said removing the Affordable Care Act would be pretty difficult at this point, though he found some things in it, such as the mandating, it's made health care and insurance more expensive, but it needs a wholesale restructuring.

"If you look at this office I think it's important again you are regulating two complicated, highly regulated industries. I think it's important that you have somebody that has experience in those," Downing said.


Troy Downing

Born in 1967, West Covina, Calif.

Attended New York University, worked and taught there but never graduated

U.S. Air Force/Air National Guard after Sept. 11, 2001., honorably discharged in November, 2009.

Founded WebCal Corp., merged with Yahoo! worked on Yahoo!'s engineering side; investor; ounded AC Self Storage Solutions, founded Sage Insurance Servicing, co-owner of WildRye Distilling; an owner of DeFeet International, athletic wear

Never held public office.

Married to, Heather, four children.


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