Montana Citizens Opposing Political Corruption
From Corporate Contributions
November 1912, Montana voters passed the Corrupt Practices Act that prohibited corporations from contributing to campaigns for political office. It remained in effect, as written for nearly 100 years.
January 2010, U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 130 S.Ct. 876, 175 L.Ed. 753 (2010)which said: prohibiting corporate money in election campaigns prohibits corporate speech. Corporations being "people," freedom of speech is guaranteed by the Constitution.
October 2010, District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock determined that
Montana's Corrupt Practices Act was unconstitutional. The
Western Tradition Partnership, Colorado-based activist group.
Champion Painting, a Bozeman sole proprietor corporation.
Montana Shooting Sports Association, Inc. a Missoula not-for-
September 21, 2011, Judge Sherlock's
The Montana Attorney General appealed Judge Sherlock's decision that the Montana Corrupt Practices Act is unconstitutional. The Montana Supreme Court will hear oral argument on the appeal on September 21, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. in the courtroom of the Montana Supreme Court, Justice Building, Helena, Montana.
September 6, 2011, ATP and others
filed in federal court to have the Montana’s election and campaign
finance laws as codified in Chapters 35 and 37 declared
unconstitutional because they restrict First Amendment free speech
and association rights. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality
of these laws and seeks a preliminary injunction against their
Case: Lair et al v. Gallik et al. Case Number: 1:2011cv00102
December 30, 2011, Montana Supreme Court reinstates the Corrupt Practices Act. The Montana Supreme Court upheld the Corrupt Practices Act enacted by voter initiative 100 years ago. The court ruled that even in the face of the Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana had a compelling state interest to keep its elections and judiciary free of corruption or even the appearance of corruption. The court also determined that the Corrupt Practices Act also is narrowly tailored to achieve this goal.
December 31, 2011 President Obama signed S-1867, the National Defense Authorization Act into law. The side bar contains more information on the suspension of Habeas Corpus.
January 5, 2012, American Tradition Partnership Appeals the decision of the Montana Supreme Court. The U.S Supreme Court must decide if it will hear the appeal.
January 13, 2012,
Citizens United Lawyer tapped to handle appeal. James Bopp Jr., a lawyer from Terre Haute, Ind., brought
the Citizens United case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Now he will
challenge the Montana ruling before that same body. He'll represent
American Tradition Partnership, Champion Painting and Montana Sports
A little known fact: James Bopp Jr. previously filed papers on 5/11/11 with the FTC to form the Republican Super PAC, Inc. The filing states the PAC intends to make independent expenditures after raising money in unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations. James Bopp is Treasurer.
January 21, 2012, Occupy Montana rallied to thank the Montana Supreme Court for not upholding Citizen United vs FEC. After two years of a remarkably poor decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, Montana said it would not give up its Corrupt Practices Act.
February 10, 2012, U.S. Supreme Court blocks Montana's ban on corporate spending in candidate elections. Justices Kennedy, Ginsburg and Breyer signed the order to halt enforcement of the century-old law.
March 18, 2012, Two groups, Stand With Montanans: Corporations Aren't People and Ban Corporate Spending Missoula, announced their intention to file an Initiative that asks state officials to prohibit corporate contributions to candidate campaigns. It will also direct Montana's Congressional Delegation to support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolishing the 2010 Citizens United decision of the U.S. Supreme Court.
April 17, 2012, the Helena League of Women Voters sponsored a discussion of ways to restore balance between corporate rights and the rights of citizens. The organization will discuss the topic in the upcoming state convention.
May 10, 2012, open discussion to end corporate control of government held on at 6:30 at the Plymouth Congregational Church in Helena.
May 16, 2012. ATP won litigation Concerning Violation of Montana's Disclosure Laws by Corporations. Montana Citizens for Right to Work and The Sweet Grass Council for Community Integrity joined ATP to protect their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. October 19, 2011, Jim Brown, attorney for ATP, argued that Federal District Judge Lovell should disallow the claim of the Political Practices Commissioner that said WTP acted as a political committee and must obey the election laws. The judge ruled, before the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Corrupt Practices Act.
June 14, 2012, the briefs are filed with the
U.S. Supreme Court. The most
interesting brief was filed by twenty-three State Attorneys General and the District of Columbia
supporting Montana's decision to keep its Corrupt Practices Act.
June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Corrupt Practices Act unconstitutional.
Occupy Helena hosted a Teach-in on the Lawn on July 7, 2012. They discussed a Vision for a Democratic Future created by 68 Occupy groups in Philadelphia on July 4.
September 17, 2012, Sanders County Republican Central Committee prevailed in the Ninth Circuit Court. MCA 13-35-231 was struck down. The statute made it a criminal offence for political parties to support or oppose judicial candidates. The decision expands upon the Citizens United decision.
I-166 will be on the ballot November 6, 2012. The title is An Act to Prohibit Corporate Contributions and Expenditures in Montana Elections. The aim of I-166 is to find a way to neutralize or overturn the effect of the Citizens United decision on Montana's elections.
Western Tradition Partnership, having expanded, now calls itself American Tradition Partnership. They have instigated a third court action that would challenge Montana's donation limits in election campaigns.