Commissioner of Political Practices

Promoting confidence, transparency, and accountability in Montana's democratic processes.

Inspection and Exam Process Guide

Q: What is a CFR Inspection Report and why am I receiving one?

A: 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.

Q: What is the difference between an Inspection Report and the “Exam?”

A: An Inspection Report is a COPP inspection that occurs each time a candidate or committee files a campaign finance report leading up to an election. The Inspection Report notes all changes a candidate or committee must make to each campaign finance report in order to comply with Montana law. A CFR Inspection Report will only detail one specific financial report, which will be stated in the “Reference Report” field.

An Exam occurs after an election and serves as a final and cumulative inspection of all financial reports filed by a candidate or committee (required by 13-37-123, MCA). All campaign finance reports are included in the Exam, and the COPP alerts the candidate or committee to all outstanding items or issues that must be addressed by the candidate or committee.

Q: I have received a CFR Compliance Inspection or Exam from the COPP. What do I need to do?

A: As stated on the CFR Compliance Report form, candidates and committees are given ten business days to correct all outstanding items. After receiving a CFR Compliance report, the candidate or committee must amend the specific campaign finance report where issues are noted. Necessary changes must be made by amending and refiling the specific report(s) in the CERS system.

The COPP is available to assist candidates and committees in correcting or addressing all items noted in the CFR Compliance report. However, it is the responsibility of the candidate or committee to ensure all reporting requirements have been met.

Q: I have received my CFR Compliance Inspection or Exam and I still have questions about what exactly I need to correct. Who should I contact?

A: The COPP staff is available during regular State of Montana hours (Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.). Feel free to give us a call at (406) 444-2942 or email with questions.

View a sample C-5 Inspection Report here