- Associated Press - Monday, August 18, 2014

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis won’t be able to jump-start her campaign using money left in Sen. John Walsh’s bank account from his defunct campaign.

Walsh, who dropped out of the race earlier this month, can only give the legal limit of $2,000 to his replacement candidate’s campaign, according to Federal Election Commission rules.

Curtis, a one-term state legislator from Butte, was selected as Walsh’s replacement in a special nominating convention held Saturday by the Montana Democratic Party.

She will have to build her own fundraising base along with a completely new campaign operation with less than three months before the Nov. 4 elections. Her opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, has $1.7 million in his campaign account.

Walsh had more than $713,000 in his campaign account as of June 30, the last FEC reporting deadline. Walsh can donate the leftover cash to charity, multicandidate committees or transfer it to local, state or national parties, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported (http://bit.ly/1tazkLW ).

Walsh’s campaign already has donated a combined $150,000 to the state Democratic Party and its committee to elect state lawmakers, spokesman Aaron Murphy said in an email Monday.

“Because the … campaign cannot accommodate all requests for refunds, Sen. Walsh is instead giving campaign money to Democratic candidates and organizations, like the Montana Democratic Party and the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, that help Democratic candidates,” Murphy said.

The Montana Democratic Party is allowed to give Curtis $5,000.

The Walsh campaign also plans to donate $2,000, the maximum allowed, to Curtis and U.S. House candidate John Lewis and $170 to each Democratic legislative candidate, Murphy said.

Asked if the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee would be financially supporting Curtis’ candidacy, spokesman Justin Barasky told The Associated Press in an email Monday that “the DSCC is monitoring the race.”

Walsh’s donors may ask for a refund since he dropped out of the race over plagiarism allegations that he said had become too much of a distraction. A U.S. Army War College investigation is underway after The New York Times in July showed Walsh used others’ work without attribution in a 2007 research paper he wrote for a master’s degree.

Curtis planned to attend a rally in Billings on Monday in support of a gay, lesbian and transgender non-discrimination ordinance that city leaders rejected this month.

Daines was in western Montana for a briefing on a wildfire near Perma and to meet with timber industry leaders in Missoula.

Roger Roots also is running in the Senate race as a Libertarian.

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