Originally published in the Yellowstone County News 8/25/17 print edition of Yellowstone County News.
SHEPHERD — Former state legislator Wesley Prouse has been released from jail after pledging to produce court-ordered financial documents in the illegal campaign funding case against him.
District Judge Michael Moses sent Prouse to jail last week after a court hearing in which Prouse refused to produce information about his assets.
Prouse was jailed on contempt of court for failing to provide documents or information about his assets. He is one of nine Republican candidates charged by then-Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl with accepting illegal corporate campaign contributions.
Before his Aug. 15 court hearing, Prouse had told the Yellowstone County News he was prepared to go to jail if required. In an interview, Prouse said no one has been able to prove he accepted illegal campaign contributions — and said if he had accepted such help, he would have won the 2010 election to a seat in the Montana House of Representatives. Instead, he was defeated in the primary.
But Billings attorney Gene Jarussi, appointed a special Montana attorney general to prosecute the cases against Prouse and the other defendants, reiterated on Tuesday that Prouse has already been found guilty in a January 2016 judgment in Lewis and Clark County District Court.
Prouse, however, has chosen to ignore the court findings and over 70,000 pages of court documents outlining the case, Jarussi said.
“Wes didn’t show up,” Jarussi said. “The evidence was put on” and a judgment entered against him in
Late last week, Prouse obtained an attorney, who filed a motion seeking his release from jail and pledging to produce the required documents showing Prouse’s financial assets and his ability to repay nearly $60,000 in judgments against him.
Jarussi said those documents must be produced by close of business Friday. If Prouse does as required, the case will proceed and Jarussi will evaluate the documents he provides. If Prouse provides no information, he will end up back in court, and possibly in jail again.