In an unusual “open letter to the voters and citizens of Montana,” the presidents of Dartmouth College and Stanford University urged Montana voters Tuesday to ignore a mailer sent recently by their researchers that caused considerable controversy in the run up the November election. They also apologized for the “confusion and concern” the mailer caused.
As TPM reported Monday, researchers from the schools sent a mailer to 100,000 Montana voters that placed non-partisan Montana Supreme Court candidates on an ideological scale. The mailer, which also featured the state seal, led to complaints, including from the Montana secretary of state, and an official inquiry is underway by state authorities.
“We genuinely regret that it was sent and we ask Montana voters to ignore the mailer,” Stanford University president John Hennessy and Dartmouth College president Philip Hanlon said in the letter.
The letter said that the schools are “fully cooperating with the inquiry being undertaken by election officials in the State of Montana” and reiterated that the schools were conducting their own investigations.
Stanford officials had previously told TPM that the study, which was designed to study voter participation, had not been submitted to the school’s review board. The letter said that this was “a clear violation of university policy.”
Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl held a press conference at 11 a.m. local time to announce the letter.
“We worked on this urgently yesterday and it went to the printer and mailing house last night,” Stanford spokeswoman Lisa Lapin said in an email. “We hope it will be off in first class mail to Montana voters today or tomorrow”