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From the Commissioner…

March 24, 2014

Dear Fellow Montanans:

As an organized body of citizens we did well. Montana's assembly of candidates for the 2014 election to public office is now official. Approximately 492,000 Montanans (72% of registered voters) voted in the November 2012 general election. in 2014 approximately 1,000 Montanans stepped forward to run for public office. Our Office's best 2014 numbers show 304 Montanans running as candidates for the Montana Legislature, 692 running for county office, 15 running for district court judge, 15 for class one school boards, 5 for the public service commission, and 4 for the supreme court.

Montana is small enough that each of us likely knows one or more of those 1,000 Montanans who are candidates for public office. We owe each of them thanks for their willingness to serve the interest of the public. The journey to election for each of these 1,000 candidates began with Montana's Secretary of State or a local (county) election administrator, one of which accepted and processed a declaration of candidacy and a filing fee for each of the 1,000 candidates.

A candidate's journey to election next involved this Office as part of their demonstration of acceptance of the public trust obligation accompanying any campaign for Montana public office. This Office accepted and processed one document (a form C-1 or C-1a) for each candidate disclosing basic information (treasurer and depository) providing a platform for future campaign reporting and disclosure by the candidate. This Office further accepted and processed another document ( a form D-1) from the 300-plus legislative and PSC candidates whereby they disclosed financial interests. As campaigns progress most candidates will file periodic campaign finance reports disclosing to the public the source of funds received by, and the expenditures made by, their campaign.

Public trust is a noble sounding goal that is often as elusive as any search for truth. I will talk in my next letter about how public trust is served by the transparency (through public access) of information provided by documents filed by a candidate. For this letter I note that the generally seamless manner in which candidates emerge, and public trust transparency is accomplished, in Montana elections is a reflection of the democratic culture of our state, the good humor of candidates and the hard work of a few state government people who perform certain tasks on behalf of the rest of us. I will talk more about that staff work next time too.


Jonathan Motl                                                                                                                                                                                             

Commissioner of Political Practices


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)


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