Radio ads stir up controversy in Ravalli County judge race - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Radio ads stir up controversy in Ravalli County judge race

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Accusations are flying in the battle for Ravalli County District Judge, (MTN News photo) Accusations are flying in the battle for Ravalli County District Judge, (MTN News photo)
Judge Jeffery Langton (MTN News photo) Judge Jeffery Langton (MTN News photo)
Robert Myers Robert Myers

The race for Ravalli County District Court judge is now probably hitting a new low point, in an already submerged year for political advertising with accusations of drug use and a teen rape case. 

Challenger Robert Myers swears his claims against incumbent Judge Jeffrey Langton are true, but the judge says Myers appears to be just making stuff up.

"He's a coke snortin', meth buyin', drunken judge. Has a 13-year old bring him drugs…" one radio ad says in part. "What kind of a man enforces the law on others, but not himself…"

"I wanted to do a ditty to make it entertaining to people so that they would want to listen. But then I'm very serious at the end of that ad," Myers said.

"I was just completely shocked. It's just completely false. There's absolutely no basis to it," Langton told MTN News.

"It's not defamatory because it's somebody else's words, not mine," Myers said.

The ad hit the local airwaves earlier this week, re-igniting a fierce showdown that already got him in trouble with violating judicial election ethics before the primary election.

"I've never bought, used or possessed methamphetamine. I would never condone that. Almost every day I see the damage that methamphetamine causes in the community," Langton said. "And I know what kind of poison it is. And the destructiveness it causes. And I would never dream of using it, or being around it."

"He's denied it. He said he didn't do it. And that's fine. He's entitled to say that alright?" Myers said. "But he hasn't shown up and put it on form. He hasn't done it under oath. He could lying. And I think he is."

Beyond the incendiary claims, the biggest conflict lies in trying to verify the stories. Myers has produced an "affidavit", although Langton notes it's not a legal document.

"The first witness I have, who again I will not disclose, because I've been asked to -- because they're afraid of retribution and Langton can harm them," Myers stated.

"And so Mr. Myers, rather than producing whoever it is that signed this, is interpreting it for us," Langton said.

A second ad started airing on Thursday, ""Jeff Langton took my girls and gave them to a sexual molester…" the ad states.

"He can't prove they actually even made the statements. It's like he's appropriating people's identities and putting words in their mouth. It's like boxing with shadows," Langton said.

Langton freely admits he made mistakes during a drunk driving arrest and subsequent parole violation in 2005 -- incidents which brought his censure by the state. He says he still "regrets" that.

"I did go to treatment. I did that on my own volition. I did it on my own dime. It wasn't paid for by health insurance. I got professional help with it and there's been no problem since," Langton told MTN News

"Yes it was one DUI that he was caught with. But he violated his probation twice. And it's the fact he got away with violating his probation twice that nobody else is going to be able to do without going to jail," Myers said.

What Langton wants is the simple legal right to face his accusers, and hopes voters search out reality in the race.

"But he goes ahead and says 'well, they're absolutely true and he's actually campaigning on them. And that's just, the last thing you'd want to see in a judge'," said Langton.

It remains to be seen how much impact the last minute ad campaign has in the judge's race, since a majority of absentee ballots -- representing over half the votes in the Bitterroot, have already been returned.

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