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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Montana Entering 'A New Era Of Transparency' In Campaign Finance

Campaign funds graphic
Campaign funds graphic

For the first time, Montanans can now see state campaign contribution reports online as soon as they’re filed. The first reports were filed yesterday.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl says the most significant aspect about the quarterly campaign financial reports filed this week is the public’s access to them.

“We're in a new era of transparency in Montana, and this reporting period demonstrated that era.”

Statewide candidates have filed online reports in the past, but Motl says this is the first time the content of those reports is immediately available to the public, and searchable. This is also the first campaign season when non-statewide candidates are required to file finance reports.

A list of campaign donors, donation amounts, and information on campaign spending for statewide candidates is all online for public viewing now. You can find a link to those reports on the state's Campaign Electronic Reporting System.

The public will be able see reports for all legislative candidates on May 3. That’s 35 days before primary elections.

On Tuesday night, 20 of the 21 expected reports were filed on time. Unaffiliated gubernatorial candidate Casey Filler from Helena filed his report about a day late.

In order for campaign transparency to work, Motl says people will have to learn how to navigate the electronic reporting system.

“And that will tell you something about that person and it will assist you in deciding who you want to vote for.”

Some of the biggest money raised during this report cycle was by candidates for governor: Steve Bullock and Greg Gianforte.

Republican Gianforte out-raised the sitting democratic governor by nearly $95,000.

From October through the end of December, Bullock raised about $220,000. Gianforte raised about $315,000.

Corin Cates-Carney is the news director at Montana Public Radio. He joined MTPR in 2015 and is a graduate of the University of Montana School of Journalism.
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