From the Commissioner…
February 7, 2014
Dear Fellow Montanans:
It has been a busy entrance into 2014 at the Commissioner's Office. So far this year we have issued 12 Decisions on campaign practice complaints and settled 4 past Decisions. You can find the Decisions and the Settlements under "Complaints" on the menu bar immediately above this letter.
We have also issued 3 advisory opinions in 2014, available under "campaign information", also on the above menu bar. We call your particular attention to the draft Advisory Opinion No. 4 posted under "Featured Links" immediately below this letter. We have called a March 4, 2014 public meeting to discuss this proposed advisory opinion and you are invited to attend (please RSVP to Vanessa at 444-4270). This is an important issue for the reasons set out in the draft advisory opinion.
Given the considerable recent public discussion of this Office's work, a number of you have written or called to offer encouragement. We thank you for this. It is an odd, although understandable, feature of our society that we Montanans so vigorously dissect the play of athletes involved in the Super Bowl match and yet raise our eyebrows a bit over a vigorous discussion of appropriateness of activity involved in candidate campaigns. The campaign issues we are discussing are as real and compelling as any play by a sports team. The recent Decisions from this Office address the allowed role of a corporation in candidate campaigns and the extent to which entities and candidates need to report and disclose electioneering activity. Those Decisions sparked debate. In the long run this debate over allowable campaign activity has a lot more importance to each of us in Montana than a debate over the quality of performance of a sports team. Given our campaign related public trust duties, we at the Commissioner's Office are at the center of much of that campaign related debate. We understand that and we also understand that debate will inevitably go past the issues sometimes to nick at the messenger.
In the end we are all blessed when this sort of spirited civic debate takes place over the appropriate manner in which our leaders are elected. We all have to live with and honor the policy decisions made by those we elect. We all want to believe that those we elect serve our collective best interests. We all want the fairness and transparency in elections that allows us to accept the proper election of our leaders and the governance that they then offer. Civic discussion of the role of money and third party influence, as it affects transparency and fairness of elections serves that end.
Discussion, however, will not suffice if there is no way to act on the right and wrong distilled and identified in the discussion. Discussion must be accompanied by necessary enforcement action as enforcement sharpens the distinction between right and wrong, providing guidance and understanding to candidates involved in campaigns and to citizens. Participation in debate and discussion is the role assigned to each citizen. Enforcement is the role assigned to the people of this Office. Please do not worry, we intend to keep working as hard as ever. We encourage you each to keep up with your civic discussions as well.
Commissioner of Political Practices
- 2014 Contribution limits effective 12/13/13
- Previous Commissioner Letters
- New:Public Employee Ethics Training
Proposed Rule 3.15 of the 2008 Montana Code of Judicial Conduct requiring members of and candidates for the Court to comply with the same statutory financial disclosure requirements that apply to other state officials. January 2 order date. Comments accepted for 60 days from the date of the Order. (read the full order HERE)
The Commissioner has jurisdiction over laws and rules pertaining to: