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Recreational Marijuana Bill Backer Must Reveal Donors

Marijuana in jars on a shop shelf.

Montana’s top political cop is ordering a group that backed recreational marijuana leading up to the November election to reveal its donors.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan ruled on Monday that North Fund violated campaign finance laws by failing to report where it got $5 million the group spent supporting successful ballot measures to legalize recreational pot in the state.

Mangan disagreed with Washington D.C. based North Fund’s claim that it didn’t have to disclose donors because most of its activities weren’t related to the Montana election. North Fund spent more than $17 million supporting ballot initiatives in five states this year, according to the ruling.

Steve Zabawa with Wrong for Montana, a group that opposes marijuana legalization, filed the complaint that led to Mangan’s ruling.

“This is a huge win for the Montana voter for disclosing dark money from the East Coast,” Zabawa said.

Mangan ordered North Fund to identify its donors within 10 days. He also found enough evidence for civil prosecution, or, more likely, a negotiated fine. Mangan wasn’t available to answer questions regarding the size of a potential fine or when it may be issued.

North Fund spokesperson Naomi Seligman says the group doesn’t comment on ongoing legal matters.

At least 57 percent of voters supported the ballot initiatives that legalized recreational marijuana in Montana.

Kevin is a UM Journalism graduate student and reporter for MTPR.
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