Commissioner of Political Practices

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

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History, Mission and Responsibilities, and Contact Information

Led by the citizens of Montana, the Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP) was created in 1975 to protect and ensure the integrity of campaigns, politics, and government in Montana.

The Commissioner of Political Practices position (originally called the Commissioner of Campaign Finances and Practices) was created by Montana’s citizen legislators in the 1975 legislative session. The position was created in response to “perceived public pressure to impose order on the business of election campaign financing.”1

The bipartisan legislative committee created the office in a time when campaign reform was on the national radar. The Watergate scandal dominated the American public’s attention in the early 1970s and in 1971, Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) to regulate the financing of federal election campaigns. FECA limited the amount candidates could contribute to their own campaigns, expanded disclosure requirements to require the full reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures, and limited the amount that a federal campaign could spend on paid advertising.2

The 1970s were also a time when Montana voters were leading new changes and visions for the state. In 1970, voters passed Referendum 67 in support of a constitutional convention. In 1971, 100 convention delegates were elected to write a new Montana constitution, which they did in 1972.3

Themes from the 1972 Constitution included: “ensuring a strong, responsive government; guaranteeing the public’s right to know about and be involved in government; improving education; protecting the environment; and guaranteeing equal rights to all”4 (Read more about the constitutional convention in Chapter 10, MONTANA: Stories of the Land).

The 1975 Montana legislature created the COPP office to establish full disclosure and reporting of all money and sources used to influence Montana elections. The commissioner is also responsible for the investigation of all alleged violations of election laws and responsible for the enforcement of Montana’s election laws.5

The first commissioner, John H. Hanson, was appointed for a five-year term by a committee composed of the speaker of the House, the president of the Senate, and the minority floor leaders of both houses of the legislature.6 In 1979 the governor assumed the duty of appointing the commissioner from a list of candidates recommended by the legislature, and the COPP’s term was lengthened to one six-year term.


1. Hanson, John H. Report to the Governor and Legislature for Fiscal Year 1976,. Report. Commissioner of Campaign Finances and Practices. Helena, MT: Commissioner of Campaign Finances and Practices, 1976. 1. archive.org/details/ccfpgovernor1976montrich.
2. Sandler, Joseph E. “The First Amendment Encyclopedia.” Whitney v. California, MTSU, mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/1078/federal-election-campaign-act-of-1971.
3. "Montana Constitutional Convention (1972) Records, 1971-1972  PDF." Archives West: Richard Emerson Papers, 1951-1976. 2004. Accessed December 04, 2018. http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv15738.
4. Holmes, Krys, Susan C. Dailey, and David Walter. Montana: Stories of the Land. Helena, MT: Montana Historical Society Press, Chapter 21, 2008,https://mhs.mt.gov/education/StoriesOfTheLand/Part4.
5.“Montana Constitutional Convention (1972) Records.” 
6. Ibid.

The COPP is charged to protect and ensure the integrity and transparency of campaigns, politics, and government in Montana. The office monitors and enforces Montana’s campaign finance laws, the ethical standards for legislators, public officers, and state employees, and investigates campaign finance and lobbying complaints. The COPP is an independent and nonpartisan office.

For more detail, the COPP oversees:

  • 1. Campaign practices and campaign finance disclosure,
  • 2. Lobbyists’ disclosure,
  • 3. Business interest disclosure of statewide and state district candidates, elected state officials, and state department directors,
  • 4. Ethical standards of conduct for legislators, public officers, and state employees, and
  • 5. Investigates legitimate campaign finance and lobbying complaints that arise.

The COPP serves the people of Montana. Our office 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. This is possible because Montana law requires local and statewide candidates and committees to disclose their campaign finance data to be accessible for the public. We then enter this information into the public CERS database. This means that anyone in Montana can look and see who finances a candidate’s campaign or ballot issue, how lobbyists spend money during the legislative session, how a candidate spends and donates campaign money, and more!

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.

Agency Goals and Objectives - COPP

Goals and Objectives 2022 - 2023

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

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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  

Deb Belford

Compliance Specialist
Deborah.Belford@mt.gov

Cheryl Wilson
Compliance Specialist
Cheryl.Wilson@mt.gov

Leanne Kurtz
Administrative and Compliance Support

 

Outreach and Education Specialist