The search for nominees to be Montana’s next top political cop ended this afternoon during a short meeting of legislative leaders.
The majority and minority leaders of the Montana House and Senate approved Jeff Mangan, a former Democratic legislator who owns a consulting firm in Great Falls, to join the Commissioner of Political Practices nominee list.
Mangan joins Benjamin Tiller, a staff attorney with the Montana State Auditor's office, on the list of names that will submitted to the governor, who will select one to become the next COPP. The Senate must confirm that choice.
The work of the COPP nominating committee ended this afternoon after a two week delay. Democratic and Republican leaders were previously unable to agree on any nominee other than Benjamin Tiller. Republicans rejected candidates they saw as too politically biased to hold the office, and Democrats turned down applicants who did not have a legal background, including Mangan.
Democratic Minority leader Jenny Eck says when she initially rejected Mangan, funding for a staff attorney in the COPP office had been cut.
"We have since received assurances that they will put that attorney back in and so we felt more comfortable going with Mr. Mangan, who does have great qualifications and did a great job on his interview," Eck says.
No other candidates beside Jeff Mangan were considered during the Friday meeting.
The nominating process for the next COPP restarted Wednesday, after a meeting between Governor Steve Bullock and Senate President Scott Sales.
During that meeting, Sales says he and the governor came to an agreement on a list of nominees for the COPP. Sales also says he and Bullock discussed cooperation on legislative priorities and a commitment to help the governor’s cabinet nominees get through the nomination process.
Governor Bullock says he's had conversations with Republican leadership in the House and Senate about many of his legislative goals, but he did not make any deals with those priorities involving an agreement on the COPP nominee list.
Bullock’s choice will replace Jonathan Motl, whose term ended January first, but has remained until a successor is appointed.
That person will oversee the state's campaign, ethics and lobbying regulations.
Bullock said he'll name his choice in time for the Senate to confirm his pick. The legislative session ends in 29 days.