MTPR

Art Wittich

Montana Political Practices Commissioner To Remain In Office For Now

Dec 30, 2016
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl.
Corin Cates-Carney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's commissioner of political practices will remain in office beyond the expiration of his term Sunday until a state judge rules on a lawsuit seeking to keep him in office for a full six years.

Montana Lawmaker Seeks New Trial In Dark Money Case

Jul 22, 2016
Rep. Art Wittich (R) HD68
Montana Legislature

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana lawmaker is asking for a new trial after a jury ruled he took illegal corporate contributions from an anti-union organization in 2010.

Rep. Art Wittich (R) HD68
Montana Legislature

  Today a judge fined state Representative Art Wittich $68,000 for campaign finance violations from 2010 that a jury found him guilty of in April. But the judge said Wittich does not have to give up his seat in the legislature.

District Judge Ray Dayton handed down the penalty today in Anaconda.

Montana Primary Pits GOP Moderates, Conservatives

Jun 7, 2016
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Control over Montana's Legislature is at stake as voters stream to the polls Tuesday to decide election battles between Republican conservatives and moderates, with about a dozen high-profile races that could determine which faction will steer the state Legislature in 2017.

Judge To Decide Penalties In Next Phase Of Dark Money Case

Apr 11, 2016
Rep. Art Wittich
Montana Legislature

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Now that a jury has ruled a Montana legislator took $19,599 in illegal contributions, a judge now must decide whether to impose the ultimate penalty — the removal of an elected official from office, which hasn't been done by court order in 75 years.

Jury: Wittich Guilty Of Campaign Finance Violations

Apr 2, 2016
Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, testifies on the forth day of his corruption trial in Helena.
Kimberly Reed

It took a jury of six men and six women four hours Friday to find Bozeman Republican lawmaker Art Wittich illegally coordinated with non-profit third-party political groups during his 2010 primary election campaign.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, the state elections enforcer who brought the civil lawsuit against Wittich for violations of campaign finances laws, told reporters after the trial that the jury’s decision will have lasting impacts on Montana elections.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl reflects during a break in the final day of his lawsuit against Bozeman Republican Rep. Art Wittich.
Kimberly Reed.

Testimony and arguments in the civil trial of State Representative Art Wittich wrapped up today. The jury is now deliberating the campaign finance charge against him. The Bozeman Republican has been on trial all week, sued by Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl. Motl says Wittich failed to report substantial contributions of campaign services provided by a national anti-union group in 2010. We spoke with John S. Adams, editor-in-chief of Montana Free Press about the trial's final day, and what happens next.


This week on "Campaign Beat": Regardless of the verdict, the Wittich trial could have long lasting implications for Montana politics. The Gianforte campaign continues to avoid questions about the candidate's charitable giving and positions on social issues. How long can that continue? And Attorney General Tim Fox saves they day when a belligerent drunk gets rowdy.

Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, testifies on the forth day of his corruption trial in Helena.
Kimberly Reed

State representative Art Wittich took the stand Thursday in the civil trial against him for allegedly violating state campaign finance law. Wittich is being sued by Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl. Motl says Wittich failed to report thousands of dollars of campaign services that he received from a nation anti-unton group when he ran for state senate in 2010. Wittich says he did pay for the services, and denies any wrongdoing. We spoke with John S. Adams, editor-in-chief of Montana Free Press about Wittich's testimony on Thursday.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl testifies in his lawsuit against Republican Rep. Art Wittich, March 31, 2016.
Kimberly Reed

The third day of the civil trial against Republican State Representative Art Wittich included testimony from the man who's suing him — that's Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl. Motl says Wittich didn't report campaign contributions in the form of thousands of dollars of campaign services that he received from a national anti-union group in 2010. Montana Free Press Editor-in-Chief John S. Adams brings us up to speed on what happened at the trial on Wednesday.


The testimony of Sarah Arnold resumed in the Wittich campaign practices trial, revealing inner workings of the National Right to Work campaign operation in MT.
John S. Adams - Montana Free Press

The jury hearing the case against Bozeman Republican Art Wittich has now heard two days of testimony. State Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl's case against Wittich charges the lawmaker with failing to report thousands of dollars in campaign services he allegedly received from the National Right To Work Committee when he was running for state senate in 2010. We spoke with Montana Free Press Editor-in-Chief John S. Adams who's covering the trial from Helena.


Wittich Campaign Finance Trial Underway

Mar 28, 2016
Special attorney general Gene Jarussi, center, listens during jury selection. COPP Jonathan Motl, far right, is suing Bozeman Republican Rep. Art Wittich, far left, for campaign practice violations. Also pictured is Wittic’hs attorney, Lucinda Luetkemeyer
Courtesy Kimberly Reed

HELENA — A highly anticipated civil trial to determine whether Bozeman Republican Rep. Art Wittich violated campaign practice laws during his 2010 primary campaign got underway in Helena on Monday.

Rep. Wittich To Get His Day In Court

Mar 25, 2016
Rep. Art Wittich
Montana Legislature

After more than two years of allegations, counter-claims, investigations, and back-and-forth legal maneuverings, the high-profile campaign practices lawsuit between a Democratic appointee and a Republican state lawmaker will finally go before a jury on Monday.

Montana DPHHS

The special state committee set up to oversee Medicaid expansion in Montana got its first progress report since expansion began January 1.

"This is just incredible success we’re having," Marie Matthews with the state health department told the committee. "This program has already saved the state general fund about $3 million," she said.

Hearing Previews Upcoming Political Corruption Trial

Mar 7, 2016
Former Commissioner of Political Practices investigator Julie Steab responds to cross examination from state attorney Gene Jarussi.
John S. Adams - MontanaFreePress.org

Today there were developments in a political corruption lawsuit being brought against Bozeman Republican Art Wittich. John S. Adams is covering this for the website Montana Free Press, and he joins us now to talk about today's hearing.

On this episode of "Campaign Beat:" The impact of Justice Scalia's death on the Clean Power Plan lawsuit and Montana's governor's race; the political impact of out-of-state control over Colstrip's future; new revelations of "dark money" spending, and the upcoming campaign finance trial of Rep. Art Wittich.

New Judge Assigned To Political Corruption Lawsuit

Feb 5, 2016
Chief Justice Mike McGrath, left, swears in Mike Cooney as Montana’s 32nd lieutenant governor with Cooney’s wife, Helena District Judge DeeAnn Cooney, at his side.
Courtesy Governor's Office

The Helena district court judge Gov. Steve Bullock recently appointed to the bench has recused herself from presiding over a high-profile political corruption case involving one of Bullock’s staunchest critics.

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services
PD

Last week Governor Steve Bullock announced a new, multi-million dollar initiative to reform child protective services in Montana.

That’s the system that follows up on reports of child abuse and neglect. About 1,400 reports a year like that come in. Montana’s Child and Family Services Division can recommend that kids in those situations can be placed in foster care for their own protection.

Courtesy Photo

NOTE: This post has been edited on 8/19 to clarify information about disenrollment from Medicaid related to not engaging in work or job training programs. 

Montana is holding public meetings this week to get input on its Medicaid expansion plans.

As the state prepares to ask the federal government to accept its version of Medicaid expansion, one critic of the proposal wants to make sure the state is telling the whole story.

Two Medicaid Expansion Opponents Named To State Oversight Committee

May 29, 2015

Governor Steve Bullock and Legislative leaders named their picks for the 9-member panel that will oversee the roll-out of Medicaid coverage for Montana’s working poor. The oversight committee includes two opponents of Medicaid Expansion.

In late April, as the Montana Legislature was getting ready to adjourn, the state Senate confirmed Jonathan Motl as Commissioner of Political Practices, a job he’s held since being appointed by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock in 2013. Montana has had four different Political Practices Commissioners since 2011, and Motl is the first in that time to win Senate confirmation, against harsh criticism from some Republicans.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On the final "Capitol Talk" of the 2015 session, Sally, Chuck, and Mike talk about the death of the infrastructure bill, the session's winners and losers, and how the outcome might affect the 2016 election.

 The State Administration Committee heard much praise, but also much criticism, of Jonathan Motl, whom Governor Steve Bullock appointed as Commissioner of Political Practices in 2013.

The criticism came mainly from Republicans who gotten into trouble with Motl, including Republican Representative Art Wittich.

“You should not confirm Jon Motl," Wittich told the committee. "He’ll bring further shame to this office and to justice itself. Instead make the governor appoint an objective commissioner, someone with a clear history of unbiased and appropriate conduct."

On Saturday the Montana House gave final approval to a bill expand Medicaid coverage to Montana's working poor on a 54-to-42 vote.

Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

The House Rules Committee wrapped up a special meeting Friday afternoon. They were considering a challenge to the Medicaid expansion bill that passed the full House yesterday.

Belgrade Republican Representative Art Wittich was arguing that shouldn’t have happened, because the Medicaid bill was improperly sent out of his committee without enough votes to do so.

MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess explains the rules debate.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

A bill to extend Medicaid to Montana's working poor won preliminary approval in the Montana House on a 54 to 46 vote. But before it could, supporters of Senate Bill 405 had to fight off another attempt to kill this bill again in committee.

The last surviving bill on Medicaid expansion has been the subject of numerous procedural fights with the most intense action over whether it could come to the House Floor for debate. That finally happened Thursday.

    

Supporters of Medicaid expansion for low-income Montanans are celebrating a major victory tonight, after the House approved the controversial bill.

Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

The lone bill barely alive at the Montana Legislature that expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor is now tangled in a procedural fight over the House rules.

It will be an interpretation of those rules that will determine whether the full House gets to debate this bill on the floor.

This fight over Medicaid Expansion began long before the Republican-controlled House Human Services Committee held yesterday’s hearing on Senate Bill 405.

But it came to a head during executive action held after the four and a half hour hearing on this bill.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

One of the biggest bills in this year’s Montana Legislature remains in limbo. Wednesday at noon, the House rules committee will meet to decide whether a committee had the right to kill a Medicaid expansion proposal with a “do not pass” recommendation.

Sen. Ed Buttrey (R) SD13
Montana Legislature

Tuesday brings a crucial test for Medicaid expansion in Montana. Republican Senator Ed Buttrey’s bill to offer the government-funded health coverage to about 70,000 more Montanans faces a hearing before the same committee that killed a similar proposal by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock.

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