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COPP News

Montana's Campaign Contribution Limits Upheld

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On May 2, 2018 a Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals panel denied the petition for rehearing en banc on behalf of the Court. Montana’s campaign contribution limits are once again upheld and remain in place. The Commissioner extends his thanks to Assistant Attorney General Matthew T. Cochenour, as well as to the Attorney General's Office, for their continued work and support in this matter.

 

Please find the order in No. 16-35424 - Lair v. Motl, attached to this release.

Commissioner of Political Practices Issues Decision in Ethics Matter Adams v Montana Board of Regents

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April 25, 2018

The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices office has completed its consideration of an ethics complaint, Adams v. Montana Board of Regents, COPP-2018-ETH-001, accepted jurisdiction, and has issued a summary decision.

The Commissioners office takes the responsibility of upholding Montana’s ethics laws very seriously.  In this matter, the issue of jurisdiction played a central role, as to whether Montana’s Board of Regents were indeed bound by Title 2, Part 1, Montana’s Code of Ethics.

Upon receipt of the Board of Regents responses to the filed complaint, the Commissioners office initiated a thorough review of all relevant legal authority.  Thanks to the work of the COPP’s Chief Legal Jaime MacNaughton and staff, the Commissioner has determined Members of Montana’s Board of Regents are public employees, and therefore subject to Montana’s Code of Ethics.

The Commissioner understands the members of Montana’s Board of Regents are strong advocates for education and Montana’s University system. The Montana Board of Regents has a responsibility to look at all issues that may affect the operation of the Montana University System, including funding.  Like any other public employee, the Board of Regents also have a duty not to utilize public resources in support (or opposition) of a Ballot Issue.  Seeking and providing information, determining the veracity of that information, providing the public guidance on effects of passage (or failure to pass) of a Ballot Issue, for example, without expressing support or opposition is routinely done in public meetings at all levels of local government.

Included in their response, the Montana Board of Regents requested guidance should the Commissioner find Montana’s Code of Ethics apply. We urge the BOR and interested parties to read the decision fully as it contains extensive guidance in these matters, and the COPP is ready to refer and provide any additional resources regarding Title 2, Chapter 1 within the scope of the duties of the Office of Commissioner of Political Practices.

Jeff Mangan
Montana Commissioner of Political Practices

Commissioner of Political Practices Announces Receipt of Payment Satisfying Civil Penalty and Judgment in COPP v. Prouse

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MEDIA RELEASE
April 23, 2018

The Montana Commissioner of Political Practices has received a payment of $70,211.99 from Mr. Wesley Prouse to satisfy the civil penalty and judgement entered against him in COPP v. Prouse, First Judicial District Court, Cause No. DDV-2014-250.  The District Court entered a Judgment against Mr. Prouse on January 20, 2016.  The Commissioner notes that according to the Judgement of the Court, Mr. Prouse is still prohibited from running for public office until such time that he corrects his 2010 campaign finance reports, to disclose $9,421 in campaign contributions and expenditures.

The receipt of the payment of the civil penalty imposed by the Court, resolves the issues as set for in Bonogofsky v. Prouse, COPP-2010-CFP-033.  Again, the COPP would like to thank Ms. Bonogofsky of Billings for bringing this matter to the attention of the COPP.  We would also like to thank Mr. Prouse for accepting responsibility and working with the COPP to achieve resolution of this matter.  Finally, we would like to thank Mr. Gene Jarussi for his service to the people of Montana as a Special Attorney General, through volunteering his time on a pro bono basis in this matter.

Deputy Commissioner Madsen Issues Order Dismissing Eaton v. G. Jarussi Complaint

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April 20, 2018

 

The Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices received the attached Order Dismissing Complaint in Eaton v. G. Jarussi, COPP-2017-CFP-010 from Deputy Commissioner Kirsten Madsen this morning.  The COPP would like to thank her for her service to the people of Montana as Deputy Commissioner since January of this year. The parties to the matter have been notified, and Commissioner Mangan determines that the decision will be circulated to the media today.

 

There remain two additional Campaign Finance Complaints on the COPP's docket for which the investigations are completed, and the Commissioner is in the process of drafting the decisions for vetting: Eaton v. Neighbors for Responsible Legislators, COPP-2017-CFP-011 and Eaton v. Karjala, COPP-2017-012.  It has been a busy couple of months at the COPP and we reaffirm our commitment to diligently working on resolving the many pending litigation, settlement, and complaint issues currently pending with our offices on behalf of the people of Montana.

Montana COPP Ballot Statement Sent to MT SOS

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The final day to register as a candidate for the 2018 election cycle was Monday, March 12, 2018, and Montana candidates had five days to file the necessary paperwork to the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices to be certified to appear on the ballot. The deadline for filing the required forms (form C-1A for County candidates; forms C-1 and D-1 for State District and Statewide candidates) was, March 19, 2018, at 5:00 p.m.  Additionally, the COPP is statutorily bound to notify the Montana Secretary of State by written statement of candidates who have not complied with the requirements to file certain required statements or reports 2 calendar days before the certification deadline provided in 13-10-208, MCA.   

On March 19, 2018 at 5:15 p.m., the COPP office issued the 2018 ballot statement to Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, meeting the statutory requirement.  Any candidate who missed the statement and report filing deadline by failing to file their required paperwork to the COPP by 5:00 p.m. March 19, 2018 may not appear on the ballot.

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