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Governor Bullock continues Montana’s fight against dark money by announcing leading-edge executive order

Bullock Orders Disclosure of Dark Money Election Spending by Recipients of Large Public Contracts

Tuesday, June 5, 2018/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

Governor Steve Bullock today announced that he will sign an executive order requiring the recipients of major government contracts to disclose dark money spending in elections.

“Where Citizens United opened the door for a wave of dark money, Montana will again shine a light,” said Governor Bullock. “Montana will again stand up for openness and fairness in politics. Because Montanans deserve a government that works for them, and only them.”

Governor Bullock announced his decision to issue the executive order during a keynote address today at the Center for American Progress 2018 Ideas Conference. He will sign the executive order into law in Helena, Montana on Friday, June 8.

Under the executive order, government contractors who have spent over $2,500 in the past two years in elections will be required to disclose their donations. The order covers contributions to so-called “dark money” groups that are otherwise not required to disclose their donors. The executive order applies to new contracts for goods over $50,000 and new services contracts over $25,000.

“Tattooed across NASCAR drivers’ jumpsuits and over every square inch of their cars are the logos of the companies sponsoring teams, underwriting the costs, and paying their salaries. Everyone can see who the drivers represent and who is footing the bill,” Governor Bullock explained. “If elected officials are going to be like NASCAR drivers – sponsored and supported by various special interests – we ought to at least know who’s doing the sponsoring and spending.”

The order represents a significant new step for transparency in government. No similar executive order exists at the federal level, despite calls from reformers and other transparency advocates.

“This is just common sense. If the federal government won’t implement these rules to protect federal taxpayers, then we’ll do it here in Montana,” Governor Bullock said.

“I have always believed that one of our nation’s great equalizers is that we all hold the exact, same amount of influence come election day. But, if people no longer think they have a shot at influencing elections and the activities of representative democracy, if they believe their voice doesn’t count because it’s not backed by an unlimited bank account, trust in the institutions of government disappears. And when trust in government disappears, it gives rise to the dangerous discourse and divisiveness we’ve seen everywhere from Washington, D.C. to our Facebook feeds,” Governor Bullock continued.

Since taking office, Governor Bullock has fought to keep dark money out of politics and championed measures to increase transparency in elections.

  • As Attorney General, Bullock led the effort to preserve Montana’s 100-year-old Corrupt Practices Act, taking the case for the state’s citizen democracy all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His office defended Montana’s campaign finance limits and disclosure laws against a wave of lawsuits filed by American Traditions Partnership and other dark money groups.
  • Governor Bullock has been called “the biggest threat to Citizens United,” and remains committed to ensuring Montana’s elections are the most transparent in the nation.
  • Governor Bullock worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the DISCLOSE Act to require the disclosure of donors to independent group spending money on state-level elections.
  • Montana has since received an “A” rating on the 2016 national scorecard for disclosure practices governing direct contributions to state candidates, state political parties, and committees that support or oppose any kind of statewide ballet question from followthemoney.org.

Full text of Governor Bullock’s remarks can be found at this link.

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