Montana Public Radio

Federal Election Commission

An outside group is running ads trying to influence voters in Montana's U.S. Senate race — a battle between Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock that could be key in determining which party holds the majority in the U.S. Senate.

Spending by Candidates In Montana's U.S. Senate Races, 2000-2018. Data: opensecrets.org, fec.org
Corin Cates Carney

The candidates for Montana's two contested seats in Congress this year, and their supporters, spent more than $76 million over the last two years in their election campaigns.

The U.S. Senate race between Democrat Jon Tester and Republican Matt Rosendale brought in most of that money, making it the most expensive election contest in state history.

Screen capture from the "Stop I-186.com" website Oct. 16, 2018.
Stop I-186.com

Backers of a Montana citizen's initiative that would add new mining regulations say a foreign-owned company is illegally bankrolling an industry campaign against the proposal.

In a complaint Tuesday to the Federal Election Commission, sponsors of Initiative 186 alleged campaign law violations by the Montana Mining Association, Sandfire Resources and others.

Matt Rosendale
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

A campaign finance watchdog group has filed a complaint against U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale of Montana and the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm.

The Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center alleges in the Federal Election Commission complaint filed Monday that the Montana Republican and the gun-rights group illegally coordinated an NRA ad buy this month.

According to an audio recording obtained by the Daily Beast , Republican Montana State Auditor and U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale may have illegally coordinated with a top NRA official prior to the conservative gun rights group spending nearly $400,000 on ads attacking Rosendale’s opponent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester.

Rosendale’s campaign denies the charges and says the candidate was referring to the pro-gun group’s endorsement in the hotly contested 2018 Senate race.