From the Commissioner…
December 5, 2013
Dear Fellow Montanans:
In my last letter I explained that this Office accepted complaints against four 2010 candidates for the Montana Legislature, including one candidate who was elected and is currently serving as a public office holder. I take note of the fact that in the past this Office regularly accepted complaints against sitting office holders, including a Governor, Attorney General, Public Service Commissioners and Legislators.
I promised I would write further on how complaints against 2010 legislative candidates could impact 2014 candidates for Montana elected office in my next letter. I do so now.
Some of the campaign practices this Office is seeing from some Montana 2010 legislative candidates are not admirable. Campaign records are "lost" or withheld from review by the Commissioner, despite a requirement that records be retained for four years. Shadow corporate groups coordinate campaign activity with particular candidates, making use of a model signature supplied by a candidate to design, write, print and sign letters for the candidate. Some candidates fail to attribute, report or disclose expenses and contributions. This Office will make Decisions on these practices, where appropriate, within the next few months. Some of these Decisions will likely move to a court setting, eventually providing a result with the force and effect of law.
These Decisions concerning Montana's 2010 election activity should inform candidates for election in 2014 that they should expect that Montana's election laws will be enforced vigorously but fairly. Further, the backlog of complaints that hampered this Office for years should be reduced such that 2014 campaign issues can be addressed promptly. That means that a candidate for a Montana election in 2014 can run with some assurance that their election and that of his or her opponent will be held to the same standards in a timely manner.
This Office understands that it owes Montanans vigilance in protection of public trust. This Office further understands that it owes all candidates a demonstrated record of vigorous, timely and fair enforcement of campaign practice laws. The candidates for election to Montana public office in 2014 should run on this expectation and, if necessary, use this Office to hold their opponents to the same standards. It is this Office's goal to further a fair campaign practice playing field in the 2014 elections. That can only lead to fairer elections and a platform for better governance.
Commissioner of Political Practices
- Previous Commissioner Letters
- Proposed Administrative Rule; Contribution limits
- Proposed Administrative Rule; PAC aggregate limits
- New:Public Employee Ethics Training
The Commissioner has jurisdiction over laws and rules pertaining to: