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Education

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The Office of Political Practices is committed to promoting confidence, transparency, and accountability in Montana’s democratic process by making sure Montanans can follow the money that finances and influences local elections and the legislature. To ensure this is possible, the COPP office provides educational outreach and materials for members of the public, candidates, committees, lobbyists, public employees, and elected officials. 

To help make campaign finance, disclosure, and transparency accessible, educational information has been broken down for four audiences: Voters and the Public, Candidates and Committees, Lobbying Information, and Ethics. We update this page regularly; make sure to check back often to dig into the freshest info on laws, data, and best practices for campaign finance and ethics in Montana! 

Voters and the Public

Your Access to Campaign Finance Information

Candidate and Committee Financial Data

The Campaign Electronic Reporting System (CERS) is a publicly accessible database where candidates and committees report the money they receive and spend to promote and oppose candidates and other ballot issues. Montana's campaign finance laws ensure that the public can engage with a transparent reporting of money in elections. To access the CERS database and search, click here. 

CERS maintains information about all non-federal Montana elections. For all federal (congressional) elections, the Federal election Commission (FEC) maintains and oversees campaign finance data for Montana's Senate and House representation and national committees (e.g. PACS). You can explore that data at the FEC's website.

To explore the role of mony in politics, check out Followthemoney.org, a database maintained by the National Institute on Money in Politics. This Helena-based nonpartisan nonprofit researches and archives a 50-state database of federal and state contributions documenting over $100 billion of money in politics. Plus, they publish more than 2 million state lobbyist-client relationships that are registered annually. Followthemoney pulls information from the COPP's CERS database and is user-friendly to navigate.

Lobbying Financial Data

The Commissioner of Political Practices also makes information about lobbying money in Montana publicly available. Any member of the public can see who is registered as a lobbyist, who is a principal (a person or entity that pays lobbyists to lobby on their behalf), and how money is spent to influence legislation and legislators.

See a list of registered principals and lobbyists for the 2019 legislative session here as an excel doc or here as a PDF.

To see how lobbying money is spent, there are two databases to reference:

One database stores lobbying reports that are submitted digitally via the lobbying database. These digital reports from 2009-2019 can be found in our electronic database. Reports that are filed as paper hardcopies or are emailed or faxed are available on our 2009-2019 digitized hard copy platform.

You can also learn more about lobbying in Montana with our Lobbying Guide and Lobbying Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

What you can learn from the "Paid for By" info on political ads

 

Montana’s campaign finance laws protect the public’s right to know who is paying to finance elections. Every Montanan must be able to look at any paid political communication and be able to know who financed the material. Candidates and committees are required to disclose details to ensure transparency. They help ensure this right for Montana voters by reporting paid communications with enough detail so that they are individually distinguishable and can be easily attributed back to their source.

Any candidate or committee's billboard, Facebook ad, yard sign, mailer, google ad, radio ad, keychain, etc., etc., must attribute who paid for the 'communication.' You can see this on the "Paid for by" information. All election and electioneering communications are legally required to include attribution ("Paid for by" information) that identifies the entity that paid for the communication (See Mont. Code Ann. § 13-35-225 for legal details). The attribution must clearly identify the name and mailing address of the entity that paid for the communication.  Committee attribution must also include the name of the Treasurer. **In partisan elections, candidates must also state their party affiliation or include the party symbol.**

If a campaign's material is too small to include an attribution, the candidate or committee must file a copy of the material or item with the Commissioner of Political Practices with attribution at the time the material is published. You can view non-attributed materials here.

If a candidate or committee fails to attribute an election communication, the person financing the communication must notify the Commissioner of Political Practices within two days of discovering the error and make every reasonable effort to bring the material into compliance. No materials should be disseminated that are not in compliance. Any communications must be pulled until they have been corrected.

Want to learn more about attribution requirements? Explore this Attribution Information link to learn the difference between an election and electioneering communication, all the detailed requirements of attribution, information on robotexts, and where you can see non-attributed information.

All information for paid communications is also publicly available on the Campaign Electronic Reporting System database. Specifically, you can search expenditures to see the details on any paid communication (e.g. who designed the ad, what medium ran the ad, etc.).

The below graphic shows what details must be reported by candidates and committees for paid communications:

 

Get involved During the Legislative Session

How to Get Involved with the Legislature

You have the constitutionally-protected right to have your voice heard by your elected officials. The Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Montana ensure every citizen the right to speak on every public issue and to be heard by officials at every level of government. The Montana Legislature extends that right to any bill (which includes any resolution). Montana’s Legislature functions in a completely open atmosphere. After full consideration and with comments and advice from the public, every vote by committee and by either house must be a public vote.

One of the best resources to learn more about the legislative session is the Montana Legislative Branch website.  At this website, you can find information about the status, sponsor, and substance of a bill, who your legislators are and how to contact them, tips for testifying, how to livestream hearings, and more! Make sure to check out their 'Guide to the Montana Legislature' and their guide on how to make your voice heard.

To learn more about the legal requirements for lobbying, and to see who is lobbying in Montana, explore the COPP's Lobbying page.

Complaint Process, Decisions, Docket, and Public Information

The COPP manages complaints concerning campaigns, lobbying, and ethics. The Commissioner has final determination as to whether a submitted complaint is accepted for filing. If accepted, the COPP conducts an investigation for campaign and lobbying complaints.  Please keep in mind that all accepted campaign and lobbying complaints are made public immediately upon acceptance. Investigations are not conducted for ethics complaints. Accepted ethics complaints filed against elected officials will also be made public immediately upon acceptance. Accepted ethics complaints filed against State of Montana employees are not made public.

Learn more about the complaint process for:

Formal Complaints

Click this Docket of Formal Complaints to see:

  1. 1. Campaign Practice Complaints,
  2. 2. Orders of Non-Compliance,
  3. 3. Lobbying Complaints, and
  4. 4. Ethics Complaints,

Decisions

Click the below links for:

- Campaign Finance Decisions
- Lobbying Decisions
- Ethics Decisions
- Advisory Opinions
- Orders of Non-Compliance
- Response Letters 

Recent Decisions, Orders, and Advisory Opinions

Find all campaign finance decisions for download here

Find all ethics decisions for download here

Find all lobbying decisions for download here

- Johnson v. Hopkins - COPP-2018-CFP-056
- Eaton v. Olsen - COPP-2018-CFP-035
- Essmann v BCOC - COPP-2018-CFP- 043
- Eaton v. Bishop - COPP-2018-CFP- 044
- GCD v. Buchanan - COPP-2018-CFP-055
- Hart v Pearson et al - COPP-2016-LOB-001 & 002
- Eaton v. McClafferty - COPP-2018-CFP- 045

Information Request Policy

- Dissemination of Formal Complaints and Decisions
- Confidentiality of Investigative Documents

Collecting ballots? Know about BIPA's legal requirements

Questions? Contact the COPP

The COPP office provides educational outreach for members of the public, candidates, committees, lobbyists, public employees, and elected officials. It is a priority of the COPP office that campaign finance be an accessible subject for voters, candidates, committees, lobbyists, and all Montanans. We serve YOU, the people of Montana. Please call us with any questions, we are here to help!

Phone: (406) 444-2942
Office: 1209 8th Avenue, Helena, MT
General Email: cpphelp@mt.gov
Compliance Email: cppcompliance@mt.gov
Fax: 406-444-1643

Let's get social!
 
Check out the latest news from the COPP office!

Jeff Mangan
Commissioner
jeff.mangan@mt.gov

Jaime MacNaughton
Staff Attorney
jmacnaughton@mt.gov

Kym Trujillo
Compliance Supervisor
ktrujillo@mt.gov

Scott Cook
Investigator/Compliance
scook3@mt.gov  

Katie Beall
Outreach and Education Specialist
katie.beall@mt.gov 

Deb Belford
Compliance Specialist
Deborah.Belford@mt.gov

Karen Musgrave 
Compliance Specialist
kmusgrave@mt.gov  


Candidate Campaign Finance Information

Campaign Finance Laws

Campaign Finance and Practices
ARM Administrative Rules of the COPP, Title 44, Chapter 11: Campaign Finance & Ethics RulesConstituent Services Account Rules 
MCA: Title 13. Elections
     Chapter 1. General Provisions
     Chapter 35. Election and Campaign Practices and Criminal Provisions
     Chapter 37. Control of Campaign Practices 

Ethics
MCA Title 2. Government Structure and Administration: Chapter 2. Standards of Conduct
ARM: Title 44, Chapter 10:
Code of Ethics Rules and Guidelines

Lobbying 
MCA: Title 5. Legislative Branch: Chapter 7. Lobbying
ARM: Title 44, Chapter 12: Lobbying Rules 

 

Understand the Campaign Finance Process

Guide to Candidate Campaign Finance Forms

CANDIDATE CAMPAIGN FINANCE FORMS

The following is a list of report forms available to candidates from the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices and a brief description of what each form is and where and when the form must be filed (available as a PDF):

 

-C-1 Statement of Candidate (C-1 guide and paper copy): Form C-1 is the Statement of Candidate form for candidates for statewide or state district (House, Senate, Public Service Commission, and District Judges) seats. Form C-1 must be filed within five days after receiving or spending money, appointing a campaign treasurer, or filing for office, whichever occurs first. Before filing a Statement of Candidate, make sure to reference this Candidate Registration Guide!  A C-1 Statement of Candidate can be filed in the CERS system.

 

-C-1A Statement of Candidate (C-1A guide and paper copy): Form C-1A is the Statement of Candidate for county, municipal, or school candidates. Before filing a Statement of Candidate, make sure to reference this Candidate Registration Guide! All county and municipal candidates must file form C-1A; all candidates campaigning for school trustee offices in first-class districts located in counties with populations of 15,000 and more or in county high school districts having student enrollments of 2,000 or more must file a Form C-1A. Form C-1A must be filed within five (5) days after receiving or spending money, appointing a campaign treasurer, or filing for office, whichever occurs first. Candidates for these offices may currently designate themselves 'A' box (no money, including personal funds, may be spent/received), 'B' box (less than $500 will be cumulatively raised and spent), or 'C' box (more than $500 raised/spent). A C-1 Statement of Candidate can be filed in the CERS system.

 

-C-3 Code of Fair Campaign Practices (C-3 guide and paper copy): Form C-3 is the Code of Fair Campaign Practices. Candidates may sign and return the C-3 to the COPP at any time, but it is a voluntary form and is not required. A C-3 can be filed in the CERS system.

 

-C-5 Candidate Campaign Finance Report (C-5 instructions, PDF paper copy, Excel Form C-5): Form C-5 is the candidate campaign finance reporting form and must be filed by all candidates who have filed a Cl running for statewide or state district office as well as all county, municipal, and school candidates that have designated themselves 'C' box candidates on the C-lA. The CS reports must detail all contributions received and expenditures made by a campaign during a specific timeframe. C5s are filed periodically according to the reporting calendar, which varies according to office sought and election date. See the Reporting Calendars page. Candidates will file form C-5 in the CERS system.

 

-C-7 Notice of Pre-Election Contributions (C-7 guide and paper copy): Form C-7 is the Notice of Pre-Elections Contributions and must be filed by:

  • - any statewide candidate who receives $200 or more from a single source between the 20th day before an election and the date of the election;
  • - any other candidate or political committee when $100 or more is received from a single source between the 17th day before an election and the date of the election. File form C-7 in the CERS system.

The timeframe for C-7's to be filed is as follows:

  • - Statewide candidates must file within 24 hours after receipt of a contribution of $200 or more.
  • - All other candidates or political committees must file within 48 hours after receipt of a contribution of $100 or more.

-C-8 Constituent Services Reporting Form: Form C-8 is the Constituent Services Reporting form, where any expenses made from an established constituent services account must be reported (learn more about constituent services accounts here). C-8 reports are to be filed quarterly with the COPP and are established by filing form C-118C (please see below).C-8 forms must be filed by sending a digital or hard copy C-8 form either via email (cppcompliance@mt.gov), fax (406-444-1643), mail (PO Box 202401, Helena, MT, 59620-2401), or hand delivered (1209 8th Avenue, Helena, Montana).

 

-C-118 Disposition of Surplus Campaign Funds: Form C-118 is the Disposition of Surplus Campaign Funds and is the form that details or documents how candidates for public office who filed C-5 campaign finance reports disposed of any and all surplus campaign funds. Within 120 days of filing a closing CS campaign finance report, a candidate must dispose of surplus campaign funds; form C-118 must be filed by a candidate within 135 days after the closing CS is filed. C-118 forms must be filed either via email (cppcompliance@mt.gov), fax (406-444-1643), mail (PO Box 202401, Helena, MT, 59620-2401), or hand delivered (1209 8th Avenue, Helena, Montana).

 

-C-118C Establishing a Constituent Services Account (C-118C instructions and form): Form C-118C is the form that allows an official who has been elected for public office to create a constituent services account (please see this guide for more information on constituent services accounts). Following the filing of a closing campaign finance report, all candidates with surplus campaign funds are required to file either a Form C-118 or C-118C, pursuant to Montana Code Annotated § 13-37-240. A candidate that has been elected and has chosen to open a constituent services account must file a Form C-118C.C-118C forms must be filed either via email (cppcompliance@mt.gov), fax (406-444-1643), mail (PO Box 202401, Helena, MT, 59620-2401), or hand delivered (1209 8th Avenue, Helena, Montana).

 

-D-1 Business Disclosure Statement (D-1 form and guide): Form D-1 is the Business Disclosure Statement and must be filed by:

- statewide or state district elected officials;
- candidates for statewide or state district offices;
- department directors; and
- any individual appointed to fill any of these positions.

The dates by which form D-l must be filed are:

  • - Statewide or state district elected officials or department directors: prior to December 15 of each even-numbered year;
  • - Candidates for statewide or state district offices: within five (5) days of the time the candidate files for office (with the Secretary of State); and
  • - Individual appointed to any of the above offices: at the earlier of the time of submission of the person's name for confirmation or the assumption of office. 

INSPECTION AND EXAM PROCESS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE FORMS

 

Montana campaign finance laws protect the public’s right to know who is paying to finance elections and how money is spent by campaigns. Candidates and committees ensure transparency in Montana’s democratic processes by periodically filing legally-required campaign finance information as campaign finance reports (C-4, C-5, C-6, C-7, and C-7E forms).

The COPP is mandated to review all candidate and committee financial reports (13-37-121[1], Montana Code Annotated). Once a campaign finance report is filed, the COPP inspects each report and sends the candidate or committee an Inspection Report.

The Inspection Report identifies any issues that the candidate or committee must address in their campaign finance reports in order to comply with Montana law. For example, an Inspection Report will alert candidates to items that require additional detail or information, items that may not be reported in the correct place or manner, or other potential issues. Click here to see a sample Inspection Report.

It is the responsibility of each candidate and committee to amend financial reports to ensure their compliance with Montana’s campaign finance laws. To learn more about the COPP's inspection and exam process, click here.

Campaign Finance Resources, Guides, and Graphics

To best comply with campaign finance requirements, make sure to reference and familiarize yourself with the Montana Campaign Finance and Practices Laws (Blue Book) and the Accounting and Reporting Manual for Candidates (Green Book).

Contributions

- Contribution Limits, Graphic for Contribution Limits Per Election
- Reporting Fundraising Contributions
- Political Raffles

Expenditures

Campaign Communications

Montana law requires that all election communications, electioneering communications, and independent expenditures include an attribution disclosing who the communication is funded by, and contact information for the source (Mont. Code Ann. § 13-35-225).  The Commissioner will enforce the requirements of the attribution laws on all political communications including text messages.

Campaign Finance Graphics


Paid Communications (PDF)

 

Contribution Limits Per Election (PDF)

Reporting Social Media (PDF)

Sample Candidate Campaign

Sample Campaign

This sample campaign is designed for training purposes only. The CERS database system, which is where campaign finance reports are filed by candidates and committees, will be updated during the fall of 2019. Training guides will be updated to reflect the latest version of CERS.

- Candidate J. Coffee for Commissioner
 

 

Reporting Due Dates and Event Calendar

NOTE: Reporting dates for candidates and committees may change during the 2019 legislative session. This page will be updated to reflect the most up-to-date information.

Report calendars are available on this Reporting Calendars page:

  • - 2018 Candidate Report Dates
  • - 2019-2020 Lobbying Report Dates
  • - 2019 City Candidate Report Dates
  • - 2020 Candidates C-5 Report Dates
  • - School Candidate Report Dates
  • - Committee Report Dates

 

Navigate the CERS Campaign Finance System

The Campaign Electronic Reporting System (CERS) is a publicly accessible database where candidates and committees report the money they receive and spend to promote and oppose candidates and other ballot issues. To access the database to file a campaign finance report or search filed reports, click here

CERS resources

- CERS Instructions for New Users
- CERS 101: Simple Guidance
- 2018 CERS candidate PowerPoint

Complaint Information

COMPLAINT PROCESS, DECISIONS, DOCKET, AND PUBLIC INFORMATION

The COPP manages complaints concerning campaigns, lobbying, and ethics. The Commissioner has final determination as to whether a submitted complaint is accepted for filing. If accepted, the COPP conducts an investigation for campaign and lobbying complaints.  Please keep in mind that all accepted campaign and lobbying complaints are made public immediately upon acceptance. Investigations are not conducted for ethics complaints. Accepted ethics complaints filed against elected officials will also be made public immediately upon acceptance. Accepted ethics Complaints filed against State of Montana employees are not made public.

Learn more about the complaint process for:

FORMAL COMPLAINTS
Click this Docket of Formal Complaints to see:

  1. 1. Campaign Practice Complaints,
  2. 2. Orders of Non-Compliance,
  3. 3. Lobbying Complaints, and
  4. 4. Ethics Complaints.

DECISIONS
Click the below links for:

- Campaign Finance Decisions
- Lobbying Decisions
- Ethics Decisions
- Advisory Opinions
- Orders of Non-Compliance
- Response Letters 

RECENT DECISIONS, ORDERS, AND ADVISORY OPINIONS
Find all campaign finance decisions for download here
Find all ethics decisions for download here
Find all lobbying decisions for download here

- Johnson v. Hopkins - COPP-2018-CFP-056
- Eaton v. Olsen - COPP-2018-CFP-035
- Essmann v BCOC
- COPP-2018-CFP- 043
- Eaton v. Bishop - COPP-2018-CFP- 044
- GCD v. Buchanan - COPP-2018-CFP-055
- Hart v Pearson et al - COPP-2016-LOB-001 & 002
- Eaton v. McClafferty - COPP-2018-CFP- 045

INFORMATION REQUEST POLICY
   - Dissemination of Formal Complaints and Decisions
   - Confidentiality of Investigative Documents

Links of Interest and FAQs

Have a question? Contact us!

Phone: (406) 444-2942
Office: 1209 8th Avenue, Helena, MT
General Email: cpphelp@mt.gov
Compliance Email: cppcompliance@mt.gov
Fax: 406-444-1643

Let's get social! We regularly post compliance tips, due date reminders, and information to make sure candidates and committees are prepared and confident to comply with all legal requirements.
 
Check out the latest news from the COPP office!

 

Committee Campaign Finance Information

Campaign Finance Laws

Campaign Finance and Practices
ARM Administrative Rules of the COPP, Title 44, Chapter 11: Campaign Finance & Ethics RulesConstituent Services Account Rules 
MCA: Title 13. Elections
     Chapter 1. General Provisions
     Chapter 35. Election and Campaign Practices and Criminal Provisions
     Chapter 37. Control of Campaign Practices

Ethics
MCA Title 2. Government Structure and Administration: Chapter 2. Standards of Conduct
ARM: Title 44, Chapter 10:
Code of Ethics Rules and Guidelines

Lobbying 
MCA: Title 5. Legislative Branch: Chapter 7. Lobbying
ARM: Title 44, Chapter 12: Lobbying Rules 

Understand the Campaign Finance Process

The COPP strongly advises committees to familiarize themselves with MCA and ARM campaign finance requirements (see previous section on Campaign Finance Laws) and these campaign finance guides:

- Montana Campaign Finance and Practices Laws (Blue Book)
- Accounting and Reporting Manual for Political Committees (Pink Book)

The Campaign Finance Process

Campaign Accounts and Banking Requirements
- The COPP's Inspection and Exam Process of Campaign Finance Reports
- How to Close out a Campaign Account


 

 

Guide to Committee Campaign Finance Forms

COMMITTEE CAMPAIGN FINANCE FORMS

The following is a list of report forms available to candidates from the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices and a brief description of what each form is and where and when the form must be filed (available as a PDF):

- C-2 Statement of Organization (C-2 guide and paper copy): The C-2 Statement of Organization must be filed by all political committees who participate in Montana elections by making expenditures or receiving contributions. Form C-2 must be filed within five (5) days after appointing a campaign treasurer or making an expenditure to support or oppose a candidate or ballot issue, whichever occurs first, and must include the full name and address of the committee, the name and address of the bank the committee has opened an account with, the treasurer's full name and contact information, and all candidates or ballot issues supported or opposed and the date of those elections. Form C-2 must also denote the type of committee you wish to register as (Incidental, Ballot Issue, Political Party, and Independent)- to assist in determining the proper type of Political Committee to register as see MCA 13-1-101. A C-2 Statement of Organization can be filed in the CERS system.

- C-4 Incidental Political Committee Finance Report (C-4 guide): Form C-4 is the incidental committee finance report and must detail all contributions received and expenditures made by an incidental committee during a specific timeframe. C-4s are filed periodically according to calendar requirements, which can are found under the COPP's Reporting Calendars page.

- C-6 Political Committee Finance Report (C-6 guide): Form C-6 is the finance report that must be filed by political party, ballot issue, and independent (PAC) committees. Like the C-4, the C-6 must detail all contributions received and expenditures made by the committee during a certain time period. C-6s are filed according to calendar requirements, which can are found under the COPP's Reporting Calendars page.

- C-7 Notice of Pre-Election Contributions: Form C-7 must be filed when:

1) Any statewide political committee that is organized to support or oppose a statewide ballot issue receives $500 or more from a single source during the final 20 days before an election up through election day. Statewide political committees must file a form C-7 within 24 hours after receipt of a contribution of $500 or more.

2) Any other candidate or political committee receives $100 or more from a single source during the final 17 days before an election up through election day. Form C-7 is filed in the CERS system. The Form C-7 must be filed within 48 hours after receipt of contribution of $100 or more.

- C-7 E 24 Hour Notice of Pre-Election Expenditures (C-7E guide and form): Form C-7E must be filed by all political committees that make an expenditure or incur a debt or obligation of $500 or more for election material described in 13-35-225(1), MCA if made between the 17th day before the election and election day (13-37-226 MCA). Form C-7E must be filed within 24 hours after making the expenditure or incurring a debt of $500 or more.

 

INSPECTION AND EXAM PROCESS OF CAMPAIGN FINANCE FORMS

Montana campaign finance laws protect the public’s right to know who is paying to finance elections and how money is spent by campaigns. Candidates and committees ensure transparency in Montana’s democratic processes by periodically filing legally-required campaign finance information as campaign finance reports (C-4, C-5, C-6, C-7, and C-7E forms).

The COPP is mandated to review all candidate and committee financial reports (13-37-121[1], Montana Code Annotated). Once a campaign finance report is filed, the COPP inspects each report and sends the candidate or committee an Inspection Report.

The Inspection Report identifies any issues that the candidate or committee must address in their campaign finance reports in order to comply with Montana law. For example, an Inspection Report will alert candidates to items that require additional detail or information, items that may not be reported in the correct place or manner, or other potential issues. Click here to see a sample Inspection Report.

It is the responsibility of each candidate and committee to amend financial reports to ensure their compliance with Montana’s campaign finance laws. To learn more about the COPP's inspection and exam process, click here.

Committee Campaign Finance Resources, Guides, and Graphics

To best comply with campaign finance requirements, make sure to reference and familiarize yourself with the Montana Campaign Finance and Practices Laws (Blue Book) and the Accounting and Reporting Manual for Political Committees (Pink Book).

Contributions

- Contribution Limits, Graphic for Contribution Limits Per Election
- Reporting Fundraising Contributions
- Political Raffles

Expenditures

Paid Communications

Montana law requires that all election communications, electioneering communications, and independent expenditures include an attribution disclosing who the communication is funded by, and contact information for the source (Mont. Code Ann. § 13-35-225).  The Commissioner will enforce the requirements of the attribution laws on all political communications including text messages.

Campaign Finance Graphics

Independent Expenditures (PDF)


Paid Communications (PDF)

 

Contribution Limits Per Election (PDF)

Reporting Social Media (PDF)

Sample Committee Campaign

Sample Campaign

This sample campaign is designed for training purposes only. The CERS database system, which is where campaign finance reports are filed by candidates and committees, will be updated during the fall of 2019. Training guides will be updated to reflect the latest version of CERS.

- Montanans for Better Coffee (Committee)

Calendar with Committee Report Due Dates and Events

NOTE: Reporting dates for candidates and committees may change during the 2019 legislative session. This page will be updated to reflect the most up-to-date information.

Report calendars are available on this Reporting Calendars page:

  • - 2018 Candidate Report Dates
  • - 2019-2020 Lobbying Report Dates
  • - 2019 City Candidate Report Dates
  • - 2020 Candidates C-5 Report Dates
  • - School Candidate Report Dates
  • - Committee Report Dates

Navigate the CERS Campaign Finance System

The Campaign Electronic Reporting System (CERS) is a publicly accessible database where candidates and committees report the money they receive and spend to promote and oppose candidates and other ballot issues. To access the database to file a campaign finance report or search filed reports, click here

CERS resources

- CERS Instructions for New Users
- CERS 101: Simple Guidance
- 2018 CERS candidate PowerPoint

Complaint Information

COMPLAINT PROCESS, DECISIONS, DOCKET, AND PUBLIC INFORMATION

The COPP manages complaints concerning campaigns, lobbying, and ethics. The Commissioner has final determination as to whether a submitted complaint is accepted for filing. If accepted, the COPP conducts an investigation for campaign and lobbying complaints.  Please keep in mind that all accepted campaign and lobbying complaints are made public immediately upon acceptance. Investigations are not conducted for ethics complaints. Accepted ethics complaints filed against elected officials will also be made public immediately upon acceptance. Accepted ethics Complaints filed against State of Montana employees are not made public.

Learn more about the complaint process for:

FORMAL COMPLAINTS
Click this Docket of Formal Complaints to see:

  1. 1. Campaign Practice Complaints,
  2. 2. Orders of Non-Compliance,
  3. 3. Lobbying Complaints, and
  4. 4. Ethics Complaints.

DECISIONS
Click the below links for:

- Campaign Finance Decisions
- Lobbying Decisions
- Ethics Decisions
- Advisory Opinions
- Orders of Non-Compliance
- Response Letters 

RECENT DECISIONS, ORDERS, AND ADVISORY OPINIONS
Find all campaign finance decisions for download here
Find all ethics decisions for download here
Find all lobbying decisions for download here

- Johnson v. Hopkins - COPP-2018-CFP-056
- Eaton v. Olsen - COPP-2018-CFP-035
- Essmann v BCOC
- COPP-2018-CFP- 043
- Eaton v. Bishop - COPP-2018-CFP- 044
- GCD v. Buchanan - COPP-2018-CFP-055
- Hart v Pearson et al - COPP-2016-LOB-001 & 002
- Eaton v. McClafferty - COPP-2018-CFP- 045

INFORMATION REQUEST POLICY
   - Dissemination of Formal Complaints and Decisions
   - Confidentiality of Investigative Documents

Links of Interest and FAQs

Have a question? Contact the COPP!

Phone: (406) 444-2942
Office: 1209 8th Avenue, Helena, MT
General Email: cpphelp@mt.gov
Compliance Email: cppcompliance@mt.gov
Fax: 406-444-1643

Let's get social! We regularly post compliance tips, due date reminders, and information to make sure candidates and committees are prepared and confident to comply with all legal requirements.
 
Check out the latest news from the COPP office!

 

Lobbying

Montana's Lobbying Laws

Montana's lobbying laws are found in the ARM: Title 44, Chapter 12: Lobbying Rules,  and Montana Code Annotated in Title 5, Chapter 7. Lobbying. Lobbyists and principals should familiarize themselves with these three MCA sections:

Citizen's Guide: How to Get Involved at the Legislature

Montana's legislature is in session for 90 days at the start of every odd-numbered year. And it's an incredible opportunity to get involved, interact with your elected officials, and engage with the policy-making process. And remember, you have the constitutionally-protected right to have your voice heard by your elected officials.

The Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Montana ensure every citizen the right to speak on every public issue and to be heard by officials at every level of government.

The Montana Legislature extends that right to any bill (which includes any resolution). Montana’s Legislature functions in a completely open atmosphere. After full consideration and with comments and advice from the public, every vote by committee and by either house must be a public vote.

To learn more about the 2019 legislative session, the best resource is the Montana Legislative Branch website. At this website, you can find information about the status and substance of a bill, who your legislators are and how to contact them, livestream hearings, and more! Make sure to check out their 'Guide to the Montana Legislature' and their guide on how to make your voice heard.

Public Lobbying Information

The Commissioner of Political Practices also makes information about lobbying money in Montana publicly available. Any member of the public can see who is registered as a lobbyist, who is a principal (a person or entity that pays lobbyists to lobby on their behalf), and how money is spent to influence legislation and legislators.

See a list of registered principals and lobbyists for the 2019 legislative session here as an excel doc or here as a PDF.

To see how money is spent, there are two databases to reference:

One database stores lobbying reports that are submitted digitally via the lobbying database. These digital reports from 2009-2019 can be found in our electronic database. Reports that are filed as paper hardcopies or are emailed or faxed are available on our 2009-2019 digitized hard copy platform.

You can also learn more about lobbying in Montana with our Lobbying Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

Lobbying Guides

For the freshest information, check out the COPP's Lobbying page. This page is a cache of resources for lobbyists, principals, and includes a citizen's guide on getting involved with the legislature. Below are some of this page's featured guides.

Lobbying 101 Information

- Lobbying Guide for Principals and Lobbyists

Lobbying Registration Guides

- Lobbying database (Register as a lobbyist or principal, and submit L-5 reports)
          * Principal's Guide  to register in the database
          * Lobbyist's Guide to register in the database

Lobbying Report Guides
- L-5 Lobbying Financial Report guide, PDF guide

Lobbying Guides for Government Employees

- General Lobbying Guide for Government Employees
- 2019 State Agency Employee Lobbying Guide

Lobbying Reports Dates and Forms

Lobbyist and Principal Forms

These forms can be submitted through the below fillable PDF links and work best in the Internet Explorer browser. These forms can also be printed off and mailed to the COPP office at P.O. BOX 202401, Helena, MT 59620-2401. Reference this Guide to Required Lobbying Form to see sample scenarios.

Form L-1, Lobbyist License Application
Form L-2, Principal Authorization Statement
Form L-3, Principal Registration Application
Form L-5, Lobbying Financial Report
Lobbyist License Fee Waiver Request

Lobbying Report Due Dates

Reference this 2019-2020 Lobbying Report Dates page for lobbying report information.

Navigate the Lobbying Database

Register in the lobbying database

Please note that you must register for each new legislative session. If you registered as a lobbyist or as a principal in 2015, 2017, 2019, etc., you must register again in the database again in 2021. If you still have your access ID (which is emailed to you), you can enter that information to relink to previous accounts. If you cannot find your access ID, please contact the COPP to have your ID sent to you. To register in the lobbying database , reference these two guides:
          * Principal's Guide  to register in the database
          * Lobbyist's Guide to register in the database

This L-5 Lobbying Financial Report Guide is the best resource for filing L-5 reports. In particular, please know the information in the 5th section, which breaks down requirements for each L-5 section. Please familiarize yourself with this as the guide is updated regularly.

 

 

The COPP Inspection Process and How to Amend Reports

Details about the COPP's lobbying inspection process and amending L-5 reports is available on the very handy L-5 Lobbying Financial Report Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions for Lobbyists and Principals

First, if you are a lobbyist or principal, orient yourself with the information on the COPP's Lobbying Guide for Principals and Lobbyists. Then, if you are curious to know answers to these questions:

  • - What is the legal definition of lobbying?
  • - How long is a lobbying license valid for?
  • - Does Montana allow grassroots lobbying?
  • - Can I get an extension on my lobbying reports?
  • - And more!

Check out the Lobbying FAQ page for more questions and answers!

 

Ethics: State Employees, Agencies, and Elected Officials

Ethics: Laws and Guides

Opinions Regarding State Employees

State Employees, Lobbying, and the Legislature

Any government employee who engages in lobbying activities (e.g. testifying in support or opposition of proposed legislation, conversations with legislators to support or oppose legislation, or written correspondence in support or opposition to a bill, etc.) for which they are compensated at least $2,600 in government pay during the 2019 year must file an L-1 lobbyist registration form with the Commissioner of Political Practices (See COPP lobbying page for details).

 

If you think you will commit at least $2,600 worth of hours for lobbying activities on behalf of your agency, it is best to simply register and track the required disclosure details. Once you have met the $2,600 threshold, you must file a L-1 form within five business days. In-depth details are available in the below guides.

Lobbying Guides for Government Employees

- General Lobbying Guide for Government Employees
- 2019 State Agency Employee Lobbying Guide

Ethics Forms

Business Disclosure Statement (Statewide and State District Elected Officials, Department Directors, and Candidates for Statewide or State District Office)
Form D-1
Form D-1 Instructions


Multiple Public Employment Disclosure Statement (Public Employees, Public Officers, and Legislators)
Form E-1

Frequently Asked Questions
Montana Code of Ethics and the Gift Ban
Public Employee Political Activity While at Work

Ethics Complaint Forms
Please see HERE.