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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Motl Files New Campaign Finance Rules With Secretary Of State

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess
Montana Public Radio
The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office

Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl today formally filed the state’s new campaign-finance rules with the Secretary of State. The new rules, that define how candidates and political committees report their contributions and spending, take up more than 50 pages.

Motl says his office made some changes in response to objections raised by lawmakersat a committee hearing last week.

“We listen carefully and if we think we can do something that will lessen challenge and not affect the rules we do it. So we made about 4-5 changes, and minor changes which removed language that we heard somebody say was a grounds for them to say it was vague.”

The new rules require candidates and political committees to file their reports electronically, which will make them immediately available online in a searchable form. Third-party groups must report spending if their communication includes a candidate’s name or image within 90 days of an election.

“Not only will they [voters] be able to see em, but if our search function works they’re going to be able to enter a name into that electronic feature on the 34th day and be able to see every single contributions made by that political committee or individual to all of the legislative candidates in the state of Montana. It’s going to increase transparency in a way that this state has never seen,” Motl said.

They won’t go into effect until they’re published, sometime early next year. Motl agreed to delay the rules until the State Administration Committee counts the results of a legislative poll. The committee is asking all 150 state lawmakers whether the rules drafted by Motl’s office are consistent with the legislature’s intent when it passed a bill covering “dark money” spending by third-party organizations.

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