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Downing, Morigeau and Roots face off in auditor race: Roger Roots


Last updated 9/29/2020 at 11:57am

Roger Roots

Libertarian candidate Roger Roots of Livingston is facing Big Sky businessman Troy Downing and Democrat candidate Rep. Shane Morigeau of Missoula in the general election in the race for Matt Rosendale's place as Montana auditor.

Rosendale, a Republican, is running for the U.S. House instead of running for re-election and faces former Rep. Kathleen Williams, D-Bozeman, in the race for that seat, being vacated by U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte.

Gianforte is running for Montana governor instead of running for his house seat and faces Democrat Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and Libertarian Lyman Bishop in that race.

Roots said he would bring a different attitude to the auditor's office, which has the role of regulating securities and insurance.

"The Libertarians, of course, are the most anti-government party," Roots said. "We advocate government decreases and defunding at every level across every dimension. We believe the world is over-regulated and there is too much government."

In the state auditor's office and the state auditor's race, he said, he is different from his opponents - both of them are traditional regulators who think it's their duty to monitor the private sector, control and regulate the insurance industry and the securities industry.

He said he views the office as an office whose primary purpose is to keep the government in check.

"When I am auditor I will turn all my investigative resources inward toward the state government and I will investigate government officials, government policies and spending it exclusively," Roots said. "I'm clearly the only candidate that is most concerned about keeping government in check. The biggest problem in Montana right now is too much government. If you look around at Montana and even look at Montana's neighbors - Wyoming, Idaho, South Dakota, North Dakota - all of them have less government, lower taxation than Montana does."

The Montana Auditor's Office does not audit the state government, but regulates insurance and securities, leading several holders of the office to request, unsuccessfully, that the Legislature change its name to commissioner of securities and insurance.

Roots said it is really odd because Montanans have been voting Republican mostly, with the state having a Republican majority in the state Legislature for about 20 years, he said.

He added that these Republican candidates kept getting elected when they promised to cut government and cut spending, and they promised limited government, but they never delivered.

The state budget in Montana is growing faster than the rate of inflation, he said, and is constantly growing every legislative session.

"We have a lot of government officials who are spending way too much, there is also a lot of travel - they live extravagant lifestyles at the expense of the taxpayers," Roots said. "The auditor's office can really be defunded as well. I will do everything that I can to lay off some of the staff, maybe lay off the whole staff and maybe even rent out the office space of the auditor's office. The auditor's office is in the State Capitol. I'm going to try if I can to rent that to maybe a coffee shop or something and I will do my duties from my car essentially."

He said the auditor's office doesn't need all the resources that the state government has and it can be downsized.

The real purpose of the auditor, he said, is to protect the wallets of the people of Montana and to monitor government spending to make sure the people of Montana aren't being ripped off by the government - that will be his highest priority.

The office doesn't audit government spending, only regulates insurance and securities.

His position on development of public lands in Montana, such as mining, oil and natural gas extraction, logging and so on is that the state lands in Montana are very diverse, he said.

He said a lot of the public lands aren't considered treasures, adding that a lot of them can be leased out or sold to the highest bidder in order to maximize the treasury as far as it can.

"On the State Land Board, I would be constantly focused on the bottom line and trying to make Montana's state public lands as profitable as possible, I guess," Roots said.

He said the auditor should take stands on issues such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, and so on because all of those programs harm the people of Montana.

"I will do everything that I can to stop and prevent those programs from destroying any more lives and taxing people in Montana any more than they already taxed," Roots said. "Those policies are horrible programs and policies that raise costs of health care, health insurance, they increase demand without increasing supply, which causes prices to rise and so I think one of my purposes will be to basically cut those programs to the extent that I'm able to as the state auditor.

"The Libertarian party is really surging this year - I think the two big government parties are just increasingly, I think they are showing how irresponsible they are and they are horrible representatives of the people, and I think the Libertarian party, which stands for small government across every dimension and that includes defunding every government program not just the police - we want to defund the police, we want to defund the public schools to the extent that we can, the criminal justice system, the prisons," he added. "We need to work to make the roads maintenance more efficient and privatize it to the extent that we can and just increase the burden of government on all of the people as much as we can."


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