MTPR

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices

Jeff Mangan is Montana's new commissioner of political practices.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana’s commissioner of political practices basically serves as the state’s top political cop. The commissioner oversees campaign finance and ethics laws. It’s a complicated, sometimes controversial job.

In this interview with MTPR's Edward O'Brien, Montana’s brand new Political Practices Commissioner Jeff Mangan says he believes most Montanans are glad the position is there:

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

A bill to reform state campaign finance laws hit a snag on Monday when Senators rejected work by their peers in the House.

Billings Republican Tom Richmond says his bill to increase contribution limits and remove loopholes in state campaign laws passed with wide support, picking up all but two votes in the Senate in March, but is now at risk of being vetoed by the governor unless changed.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has nominated former democratic lawmaker Jeff Mangan from Great Falls to serve as the state’s next top political cop.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

Governor Steve Bullock and members of his staff interviewed candidates for the job of Montana’s next Commissioner of Political Practices, this afternoon.

Governor Bullock spent a little over ten minutes in each of his interviews with Ben Tiller, an attorney with the State Auditor’s office, and Jeff Mangan, a former Democratic legislator.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

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.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock and Senate President Scott Sales reached an agreement Wednesday on a list of nominees for the next Commissioner of Political Practices, ending a more than week long stall in the nomination hearings. Bullock says he did not try to leverage his administration's legislative goals during that meeting, which was outside of the public nominating process.

Montana Senate President Scott Sales.
Mike Albans

State lawmakers and Governor Bullock have ended a stalemate over nominees for Montana's next Commissioner of Political Practices. The handshake agreement was reached outside the public hearing process.

Republican Senate President Scott Sales and Democrat Steve Bullock met in the governor's office a little before noon on Wednesday and reached an agreement on a list of nominees to replace Jonathan Motl as Commissioner of Political Practices.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

A meeting to come up with a list of candidates to nominate the state’s next Commissioner of Political Practices was canceled  this week, after Montana’s top legislative leaders couldn’t come to agreement. The meeting originally scheduled for Monday afternoon was postponed indefinitely.

Montana Capitol
William Marcus

Republican and Democratic leadership in the state legislature failed to come to an agreement today on a list of candidates to take over the office of the Commissioner of Political Practices. If the disagreement continues, the top lawmakers will forfeit their right to limit who the governor can select as the state’s top political cop.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

State legislative leaders are no longer taking applications for the job of Montana's top political cop. They've now started the process of selecting the next commissioner of political practices.

In a meeting this morning, four Montana House and Senate leaders discussed  how to move forward in replacing current Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl, whose term ended in January.

Montana Bill Would Prohibit Commissioner Of Political Practices From Working Beyond Term

Feb 17, 2017
Jonathan Motl, current Commissioner of Political Practices, provides testimony against House Bill 406 Friday, Feb. 17. The bill is one of many introduced by Republicans in an effort to dismantle the office.
Freddy Monares

Montana Republicans furthered their efforts to dismantle the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices by introducing a bill today that would prohibit past, present and future commissioners from doing any work for the office.

Rep. Derek Skees.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

In a late vote Monday evening, a Republican-backed bill to eliminate the state’s office of political practices took another step forward, passing in the Montana House of Representatives.

The bill to dismantle the state's Office of Political Practices passed largely on party lines as Republicans muscled House Bill 340 through its first key vote on the House floor.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
Mike Albans

A group of Republican-led lawmakers has pushed forward an effort to eliminate Montana’s office of Political Practices. The bill introduced by Derek Skees, a Republican from Kalispell, passed out of a judiciary committee of state representatives today, on a party-line vote.

Rep. Derek Skees (R) HD-11 is the sponsor of a bill that would close the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices.
Montana Legislature

Allegations of corruption and partisanship were scattered throughout a meeting of lawmakers today in the House Judiciary Committee as they discussed a bill (HB-340) that would dismantle the current office of the Commissioner of Political Practices.

Bill Would Eliminate Montana Office Of Commissioner Of Political Practices

Feb 2, 2017
The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

HELENA - A bill in the Montana House would get rid of the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices and split the duties between two elected officials — the Attorney General and Secretary of State — rather than one appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

House Bill 340’s sponsor, Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, said the office wields too much power for one person.

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

The Montana Supreme Court ruled today that Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl's term has expired, but he can remain in office until a successor is found.

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber.
Mike Albans

Montana Standard Editor David McCumber joins MTPR's Nora Saks to talk about his paper's reaction to President Trump's gag-order covering several federal agencies like EPA and USDA. McCumber talks about how his newspaper plans to hold government agencies accountable.

Republican Lawmakers Try To Cut Off Campaign Regulator's Pay

Jan 12, 2017
The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's Republican legislative leaders asked state officials Thursday to cut off Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl's pay amid a legal dispute over the commissioner's term of office.

While the maneuver appears to be an attempt to force Motl out of office, Senate President Scott Sales, R-Bozeman, said the issue isn't about the commissioner himself.

Montana FWP Appeals Ethics Ruling Over Trapping Initiative

Jan 3, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's fish and wildlife agency is appealing a ruling that it violated the state's ethics laws by allowing equipment it owns to be used to advocate against a ballot initiative.

In November, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl fined Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks $1,500 after finding the Montana Trappers Association used an FWP trailer and state-owned displays of furbearing animals to oppose the 2014 anti-trapping initiative. The measure never made it on the ballot, but was revived in 2016 and rejected by Montana voters.

Senate Republicans Seek To Push Motl Out As Commissioner

Jan 3, 2017
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl testifies in his lawsuit against Republican Rep. Art Wittich, March 31, 2016.
Kimberly Reed

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Senate Republicans who oppose giving Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl a full six-year term in office want to intervene in a lawsuit that aims to do just that.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, told his GOP caucus Tuesday that a resolution will be introduced as early as Wednesday defending the Senate's confirmation process, which set Jan. 1 as the expiration of Motl's term.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices is asking a federal court to put on hold a ruling that would allow political parties to donate unlimited amounts of money to campaigns.

Candidates Barred From Targeting Public Workers' Emails

Feb 10, 2016
The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana candidates for political office are barred from distributing unsolicited campaign material to public employees' email addresses, the state commissioner of political practices said Wednesday.

Campaign Finance Complaint Dismissed

Jan 29, 2016
Jonathan Motl, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices speaks during a forum in Missoula, MT
Josh Burnham

Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices dismissed a complaint today about campaign practice violations. Jonathan Motl ruled today that the complaint filed on behalf of the Montana Republican Party was similar enough to another complaint filed earlier in the year that it wasn’t necessary to charge again.

Tie Vote Gives Motl His New Campaign Rules

Nov 17, 2015

  Chalk up another victory for Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices, Jonathan Motl.

“I think it's a good day for Montanans and the people in Montana,” Motl said outside a hearing room at the state capitol Tuesday. “I think that this will be a step towards transparency that’s the greatest step we’ve taken as a state.”

Motl Dismisses Complaint Against Gianforte

Sep 15, 2015
The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

Montana’s Commissioner of Political Practices has dismissed a complaint against Greg Gianforte, a Republican Candidate for Governor in the upcoming election.

Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana’s proposed rules for political campaigns need rewriting. That was the opinion of several public interest groups that testified during two days of public hearings Wednesday and Thursday at the state capitol. The rules proposed by Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, define when a public interest group qualifies as a "political committee".

Jonathan Motl is rewriting the rules for politics in Montana. That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s not.  The state's Commissioner of Political Practices has come out with a top-to-bottom rewrite of the rules that candidates, parties, and political committees must follow, partly because of Senate Bill 289, the so-called “dark money” bill passed by the state legislature this year.

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.

The controversy over the water compact for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes continued this week when the head of the Flathead County Republicans alleged that groups supporting the compact failed to fully disclose their lobbying activities.

Lawmakers Debate Cuts To Office Of Political Practices

Mar 30, 2015

Today at the Montana Legislature, state Senators discussed taking away a full-time attorney for the office of the Commissioner of Political Practices.

As written, the commissioner, Jonathan Motl, says the state budget would force him to contract out for an attorney, potentially costing more money for less experience.

Motl says his office may have more complaints due to the increased use of corporate money under the Citizens United ruling.

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