Outside groups poured at least $1.36 million into a Montana Supreme Court race that was supposed to be non-partisan.
Lee Newspapers of Montana reports a group backed by the Montana Trial Lawyers Associated spent the most — almost $640,000 on incumbent Mike Wheat.
Wheat was re-elected to the court over challenger Lawrence VanDyke in the Nov. 4 election.
Wheat said he had no idea how much outside groups would spend, and that it may discourage qualified candidates from running for the court in the future.
VanDyke was supported by several conservative and pro-business groups, including the Washington, D.C.-based Republican State Leadership Committee, which spent $477,500 on VanDyke’s behalf. He said during the campaign that he knew he couldn’t win without outside help.
The candidates themselves spent about $250,000 combined on their campaigns.