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Donors once again much more limited in contributions to Montana candidates

October 24, 2017View for printing

Montana's limits on direct contributions to political campaigns are justified in trying to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption while still allowing candidates to raise enough money to run a campaign, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Monday.

The decision overturned a ruling by U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell, who in May 2016 said the limits enacted by voters in 1994 restricted political speech.

AMY BETH HANSON Associated Press ... me-featured


Yesterday, a landmark campaign finance ruling came from the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Lair v. Motl upholding Montana’s campaign contribution limits. As Montana’s former Attorney General and now as Governor, I have been leading the effort to protect Montana’s elections from the corruption of dark money.

This lawsuit, brought by the same attorney responsible for Citizens United, sought to open the floodgates of money in Montana elections by making it easier for out-of-state corporations to buy officeholders. I am glad the federal courts upheld Montana’s limits on money in elections.

For a century in Montana, winning an election for state office has meant going door to door and meeting face to face with everyday voters: democracy at its best. With this decision by the courts, we are one step closer to keeping it that way. Elections should be decided by ‘we the people’ – not by corporations, millionaires, or wealthy special interests buying more television ads.

The Lair case involves a challenge to the contribution limits in Montana’s elections. The Ninth Circuit’s decision resolves the latest in a string of lawsuits brought by out of state groups seeking to loosen Montana’s restrictions on money in politics. The decision by the United States Court of Appeals is a significant defeat to efforts around the country to limit states’ ability to make choices about how to regulate their elections.

This decision is a big deal. Through a citizen initiative, Montanans chose to limit the amount of money that pours into politics in our state. Montanans have time and again chosen transparency and person-to-person campaigning over big, out-of-state money. With this decision, those protections are here to stay.

In Montana, open and honest elections are an important part of our history and represent one of our core values. Montanans have made it their mission to defend our elections – from the Copper Kings 100 years ago to the Corporate Kings of today – and ensure they remain the most transparent in the nation.

Thank you for your civic engagement on this issue and know that I will continue to fight on behalf of all Montanans to end the corrupting influence of dark money in all our elections.


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