Itching for Answers: Rob Quist Took Taxpayer Money in Same Year He Stiffed State on Property Taxes

Tax liens filed by state in 2015 ordered Quist to pay $15k in back taxes

Montana Democrat Rob Quist / Still from YouTube

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An official state contract shows that Montana Democrat Rob Quist was paid $12,500 to perform at the Western Montana Fair in the same year that he fell into further tax delinquency when he failed to pay nearly $3,000 in property tax.

Quist first became a debtor when he failed to pay his property taxes in full in 2007. He again failed to pay his taxes in 2011 and 2012, ultimately leading to three tax liens filed by Montana in 2015 seeking $15,724 from Quist. A copy of Quist's 2008 property tax bill shows that the state was immediately aware of his delinquency.

Though Quist owed money to the state at the time, records show that he was able to secure a $12,500 contract for his band to perform a set lasting at least 90 minutes at the Aug. 13, 2011, festival.

It is unclear how big of a portion of the payment Quist retained. Quist was listed as the main point of contact for the Mission Mountain Wood Band on the contract, which was signed by him and the Board of Missoula County Commissioners on Feb. 21 of that year.

Quist's campaign did not return a request for more information. The Montana Department of Revenue did not respond to an inquiry into whether it has safeguards designed to stop payments to individuals that owe money to the state.

The performance came during a period in which Quist has previously said—as an excuse for his debts—that he was unable to perform due to health issues.

"In court documents, Quist identifies one year, 2011, that he was unable to work because of poor health," the Billings Gazette reported in March.

An archived version of Quist's website appears to show that the performance at the Western Montana Fair was his twenty-seventh of the year. He performed an additional six shows in 2011 after the August festival.

The archived website also doesn't appear to list all of the shows. Missing, for example, is a March 5, 2011, performance at Idaho's Sun Meadow Nudist Resort.

Quist did not satisfy the three liens filed against him until May and June of 2016.

The Billings Gazette reported last week that Quist has been hiding from the Department of Revenue that he had converted what has been listed on tax records as a barn into a small apartment complex that he has been renting out for years. By hiding the conversion of the barn into commercial property, Quist has been able to maintain a lower valuation on his property, according to the report.

The contract indicates that Quist's band likely made more than what was paid to them for the Western Montana Fair performance through merchandise sales. A "twenty percent commission on all merchandise sold as swag by the contractor" went back to the county, according to the contract.

The contract also shows that Quist asked for hotel accommodations for each band member, 20 VIP passes, 10 grandstand tickets, a "hot meal" for each tour member, "a snack tray including assorted meats, cheeses, breads, veggies, and fruits, and two dozen assorted bottles of Coke products."

It is unclear whether Quist made similar demands for any of his numerous performances at the Sun Meadow Nudist Resort. The 2011 performance at the nudist resort featured a "pot luck chocolate feast" during Quist's intermission.

Brent Scher   Email Brent | Full Bio | RSS
Brent Scher is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia, where he studied foreign affairs and politics.

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