Former Montana supreme court justice William Leaphart lauded Sen. Jon Tester's ethical standards earlier this month in the third ethics examination of the senator and his staff since 2008. Tester, during his 2006 bid for the senate, said he would have Montana judges continually conduct ethics reviews of his office. The latest review, made available online today, called Tester "unique" in his level of transparency and ethical practice based on in-depth analysis of earmarks, campaign finance reports and political activity.
Leaphart made a point of highlighting the additional ethical restriction in place in Tester's office. While the Senate Rule on gifts allows senators and their employees to accept no more than $99 worth of gifts from a single source in one year, Tester's personalized rules forbid the acceptance of any gifts period. Leaphart states "I was impressed to see that Senator Tester is very meticulous about the gift policy—at one point directing his staff to write a check ($35.95) to be deposited in the U.S. Treasury to reduce the public debt in order to make up for the fact that, without the staff member realizing it, someone else had paid for their salmon entrée ($18.95), a basket of onion rings ($7) and some red wine ($10). Most gifts were valued at less than $25 and were donated. Two gifts were valued at $99.95 and were returned."
The latest poll in the race between Tester and Rep. Denny Rehberg, released by Rasmussen Reports April 3, shows Tester is still trailing Rehberg 44 percent to 47 percent.