FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 22, 2015
Dave Parker, Communications Director, 444-9844
Mike Wessler, Deputy Communications Director, 444-9725
Governor Steve Bullock Signs Montana Disclose Act Into Law
Helena, MT - Governor Steve Bullock today signed the Montana Disclose Act into law. This law requires that any group, regardless of their tax status, that spends money or resources to influence an election within 60 days of when voting begins, must disclose how they are spending that money and the source of the money. At the bill signing, Bullock was joined by Sen. Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip) who sponsored the bill and Representative Frank Garner (R-Kalispell) who carried the bill in the House.
“It’s simple: when you spend money to influence Montana elections you need to disclose how you’re spending that money and where it came from. This is what is expected of voters who donate to a candidate, so we should expect the same from interest groups,” Bullock said of the law. “This law will make Montana elections the most transparent in the nation.”
In addition to requiring improved disclosure, the law also increases the frequency and length of time that election activity reporting is required during the election cycle. Those requirements make the Montana Disclose Act the most stringent reporting law in the country.
The measure received bipartisan support in the legislature.
Since the 2010 Citizens’ United decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana has seen a flood of spending by dark money groups, which are not required to disclose how they are spending money to influence elections or where that money came from.
Bullock noted that while this is an important step toward greater transparency and accountability in elections, more work remains. In addition to the Disclose Act, Bullock also worked with a bipartisan coalition of legislators to bring forward three additional measures to improve disclosure and accountability in Montana elections, unfortunately, these proposals were killed in the legislature.
"We applaud the governor and legislature for working together to bring greater transparency to who is spending money to influence elections in Montana. This bill is a good first step," said Edwin Bender, executive director of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which tracks political donors in all 50 states and makes it available at www.followthemoney.org. "We're also encouraged that campaign-finance disclosure in Montana can now enter the 21st Century by requiring candidates to file reports electronically, which will give voters quicker access to information about who is funding candidates."
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.