campaign spending

Dartmouth College may be looking at a substantial fine for violating Montana’s campaign finance laws.

Today State Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl found that the school, along with Stanford University, broke state law last October, when the two mailed fliers to 100,000 people in Montana purporting to rank candidates for state supreme court on a liberal to conservative scale.

State of Montana

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.

The Montana Republican Party claims a non-profit group from Billings broke election laws during the 2014 campaign season.

The complaint filed with the Commissioner of Political Practices charges that the Montana League of Rural Voters used “dark money” to influence the 2014 election. 

'Dark Money' Disclosure Bill Advances At State Legislature

Apr 14, 2015
Sen. Duane Ankney (R) SD20
Montana Legislature

A bill to shine more light on the donors to political campaigns continues to advance at the Montana Legislature.

The so-called Dark Money bill was in the House today after previously passing the Senate.

State of Montana

Jonathan Motl is the Commissioner of Political Practices in Montana. It turns out, that's a difficult and controversial job. Serious state and national political interests care deeply about campaign contribution rules, anonymous or "dark money",  the definition of independent committees, and host of other issues. To top it off, Motl is up for confirmation during this session of the Montana Legislature. He has been strongly praised by some, sharply criticized by others. Listen in to hear what he has to say.

'Dark Money' Disclosure Bill Survives Another Day

Mar 9, 2015
Montana Legislature

By a slim margin a Republican from Great Falls was able to get a campaign reform measure aimed at shining the light on so-called “dark money” sent to the House Business and Labor Committee for a hearing.

Representative Steve Fitzpatrick was worried it would not get a fair hearing in the House State Administration Committee.

"I think we all know why we’re doing this. It’s to avoid adverse committee reports and give the bill a fair hearing. Let’s give this bill a fair hearing. It will get that in Business and Labor," Fitzpatrick said.

Lawmakers Consider Cuts To Commissioner Of Political Practices Budget

Mar 5, 2015
State of Montana

Today at the Montana Legislature, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl argued that state lawmakers need to fully fund his department or he won’t be able to prosecute politicians abusing the system.

Lawmakers are considering a cut of about $100,000 from the commissioner's proposed budget, including eliminating the prosecuting attorney.

“It takes away the only attorney in the state of Montana who is dedicated to enforcement of Montana’s Campaign Practice Act.”

'Dark Money' Disclosure Bill Narrowly Passes Senate

Feb 26, 2015
William Marcus

The Senate gave final approval to a bill that would shine the light on so-called “dark money” donations in Montana’s political campaigns.

Senator Duane Ankney says when neighbors contribute to a political campaign, the candidate is required to report that person’s name, address, and occupation.

Dark Money Bill On Thursday's Busy Legislative Agenda

Feb 25, 2015
Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Thursday, Montana legislators will see plenty more bills on the House and Senate floors.

One of the larger bills will be in the Senate, when Republican Senator Duane Ankney presents his bill, Senate Bill 289, to fight dark money in politics.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water rights compact passes out of committee. A bill intended to "shine sunlight on dark money" is making its way through the process. Lawmakers heard testimony on one part of the GOP healthcare plan. And next Friday is the bill transmittal deadline and halfway point of the session

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", tax cut bills are getting a lot of attention at the Montana Legislature this session. One legislator, Nicholas Schwaderer of Superior, introduced a bill that would put income tax cuts up to a vote via referendum. The bill drew bipartisan opposition during its hearing in the House. Schwaderer defended the bill saying, "taxation of income is theft."

Tax cuts could face vetoes from Gov. Bullock, who is intent on keeping at least a $300 million surplus.

Montana’s governor has made good on a promise contained in last week’s State of the State Address, introducing a package of four bills designed to increase transparency in campaign financing. The centerpiece of the package is called the Disclose Montana Act, and it broadens the range of groups that must disclose their election-related finances.

Eric Whitney

Jim Nelson was appointed to Montana's Supreme Court by Governor Marc Racicot in 1993, and retired in 2012. He's long been an advocate for electing state Supreme Court justices. But now he's changed his mind.

"Campaign Beat" looks at recent campaign finance reports, dueling gun ads in the U.S. House race, the first TV ad from the Curtis campaign, and LR-126, the initiative seeking to repeal election day voter registration.

"Campaign Beat," our weekly political analysis program, appears on Fridays throughout the fall election season. Sally Mauk, former MTPR news director and now senior news analyst, hosts the program. She's  joined by Lee newspapers Capitol Reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison.
 

LR-126 ad from Montanans for Free and Fair Elections:

Voter's Voice: How do you feel about outside spending in Montana elections? Watch the video, then tell us what you think.

Voter's Voice: The Most Important Issue? Part 1

Oct 8, 2014

What is the most important issue in this election? Watch the video, then tell us what issue is most important to you.

Big money is pouring into judges' elections. So how would you feel if the judge deciding your case had received $3.5 million from your opponent? Hugh Caperton knows. With attorney James Sample, he took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

A proposed constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance laws failed in the U-S Senate today. The amendment was co-sponsored by Montana Democrat Jon Tester.

Senator Tester says the amendment is needed to restore state control of campaign spending regulations.

This Week In Montana Politics

Aug 22, 2014

U.S. Senate Race

Saturday, Montana Democrats nominated Amanda Curtis to replace John Walsh in the U.S. Senate race.

Following the nomination, the question on many people's minds was 'who is Amanda Curtis?' Curtis, a 34 year-old Math teacher and one-term state representative from Butte, was not widely known before winning the Senate nomination.

This week in Montana politics.

0731/2014 - Is independent political speech the linchpin of our democracy or its Achilles' heel?   For democracy to work, some say, citizens (and corporations, and unions, and media outlets, and other voluntary organizations) must be allowed to express their views on the issues, candidates, and elections of the day. This proposition, they say, is exactly why the First Amendment protects the freedom of speech and of the press. On this view, restrictions on independent political speech undermine and subvert our constitutional structure.

Clean Campaigns, A "Clean Platform" And Clean Coal

Jul 11, 2014

This week in Montana politics:

The A.P. reported that District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock rejected Sen. Art Wittich's attempt to dismiss campaign finance complaints filed against him. The ruling clears the way for the case against Wittich to proceed.

Montana politicians and interest groups were divided along party lines over this week's U.S. Supreme Court decision concerning the Affordable Care Act's birth control coverage mandate. In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that closely-held private corporations do not have to provide birth control as mandated by the Affordable Care Act, if the corporations have religious objections to birth control.

The Honorable John Q. Corporation

Jul 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July – Independence Day – tomorrow.

But the old red, white and blue looks a little more tattered this year compared to the past.

For today, thanks in great part to the US Supreme Court, John Q. Citizen, the human being citizen who is the bedrock our unique experiment in self-governance, is being replaced by John Q. Corporation.

Over the weekend, Montana Republicans held their platform convention in Billings.  Chuck Johnson of Lee Newspapers reports that Republicans, "Irked at what they believe is Democrats interfering in their primary elections. . . called for closing their primaries and allowing only registered Republicans to vote in them."  Delegates also supported a resolution to turn over federal public lands to the state.

As the incumbent, John Walsh has an apparent advantage over his two opponents - John Bohlinger and Dirk Adams - in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate.

Former Republican state legislator and lieutenant governor John Bohlinger wants to be Montana's next democratic U.S. Senator.

Bohlinger is an ex-Marine and former Billings businessman who served five terms in the legislature and two terms as the Republican lieutenant governor with democratic Governor Brian Schweitzer.