Citizens Opposing Political Corruption
    in Montana's Elections

Calendar of Events

Recent and Future Events

August 2018  Dark Money is showing in theaters in Montana and will premier on PBS television stations later this year

May 14, 2017  Hometown newspapers around the state are asked to review an Initiative to allow counties to run a mail-ballot election when it is cost effective.

September 12, 2016 Date Judge Brian Morris scheduled a trial on the lawsuit filed by the MTGOP that would close Montana's open primary.  The trial did not take place because the   plaintiffs got cold feet.

June 7, 2016  Montana Open Primary (Will it be the last one?)

May 4, 2016  Ravalli County Republican Central Committee v. Montana Secretary of State (Case 15-35967) before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Montana Republicans and Hawaii Democrats have hearings one after the other to appeal lower court rulings concerning the Open Primary.  Montana Republicans are up first and have 20 minutes to make their case in Portland, Oregon.

November 19, 2015 Judge Brian Morris questioned the attorneys, Matthew Monforton and Stuart Segrest to determine if there was enough substance left in the lawsuit to deserve a trial. No matter what the judge decides, Monforton will find an issue to appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

November 3, 2015  Utah Republican Party v. Constitution Party of Utah (Case 2:14-cv-00876-DN-DBP) was decided by Judge David Nuffer. In essence, the judge declared the open primary unconstitutional. Utah has never held an open primary and will simply return to the primary used in 2014.   Matthew Monforton made sure the decision became part of the record for his case.

September 18, 2015 The Montana Attorney General replied to Monforton's final plea to Judge Brian Morris.  The  AG simply blows away every argument Monforton has and makes him look ridiculous for ignoring Montana History. Attorney General Reply Brief

August 31, 2015  A statement of stipulated facts is due in Judge Morris' court.  As Matthew Monforton outlined -- an expert witness report will include a review of the voting records of the legislators and assess how key issues were affected by those who benefited from cross-over voting at the primary.  For this report, the Republican Party may squander up to $50,000. 

May 12, 2015  Ravalli County Republican Central Committee and nine others gave Matthew Monforton permission  to concede defeat and end the appeal.

May 5, 2015  Montana Governor Steve Bullock signed into law HB 454.  The law allows political parties to establish their own rules regarding the selection of  internal leaders.  This makes Matthew Monforton's appeal moot.  For non-lawyers that means "decided."

February 12, 2015 After Judge Morris failed to grant Matthew Monforton a Summary Judgment saying his judicial argument was valid, Monforton ran off to the 9th Circuit Appellate Court to beg for relief. 

January 22, 2015  Third Amended Complaint filled.  Seems like  everyone is  finally "in the pool" that wants to be.

January 21, 2015  Wasting no time, Matthew Monforton jumped over Morris to appeal the judge's ruling.  What a way to make friends and influence people.

January 20, 2015  District Judge Brian Morris denied "Summary Judgment" meaning all points of the Republican Lawsuit must be argued and evidence provided.

January 10, 2015  The Republican State Central Committee met in Helena to discuss the Federal lawsuit filed by Attorney Matthew Monforton for ten County Central Committees.  The state central committee embraced the initiative of the county committees. Republican showed a united front.

December 11, 2014  The first hearing--the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee etal Federal Lawsuit to close Montana's Open Primary--starts and probably ends in Great Falls before Judge Morris, Pray Courtroom.

November 7, 2014  Each party (the Ravalli County Republican Central Committee etal Federal Lawsuit to close Montana's Open Primary) submitted pretrial statements.  The arguments are clearly drawn and the complaints look weaker than ever.

October 2, 2014   Four additional Republican County Central Committees joined the Federal lawsuit to close Montana's Open Primary.   Sanders County Republican Central Committee, Stillwater County Republican Central Committee, Dawson County Republican Central Committee, Gallatin County Republican Central Committee.

September 8, 2014  Ravalli Republican leaders intent on excluding all but the politically correct who will sign a loyalty test also decide to file a Federal lawsuit. Ravalli County Republican Central Committee etal v. Linda McCulloch, 6:14-cv-58. Complaint for Injunctive Relief, filed 09/08/2014. Attorney Matthew Monforton provides legal counsel.

June 3, 2014  The shot heard around the state.  State Rep. Pat Connell nosed out incumbent State Sen. Scott Boulanger for the right to run for the incumbent's senate seat.  The  Ravalli County Republican Central Committee declared "Crossover Vote! First, We'll Go to Court, then Onto the Legislature."  

Past Events

April 11, 2014 at the Great Northern, Best Western Hotel in Helena, the Spring 2014 Wheeler Center Conference on "Campaign Finance in the Big Sky and Beyond."  A day-long event preparing Montanan's for the challenge of assuring a "fair and honest" election in November.  Registration cost of $65 includes lunch (keynote address from Governor Bullock), as well as white papers produced as a result of the conference. Call (406)994-0336 for more information.

Western Tradition Partnership expanded and changed its name to American Tradition Partnership.  ATP instigated a third court action challenging Montana's donation limits in election campaigns. On January 5, 2013, District Judge Jeffery Sherlock determined that ATP acted as a political committee in 2008 and must report spending and donors. In addition, Montana is seeking $321,365 in fines.

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.

June 25, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Corrupt Practices Act unconstitutional. 

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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 Shooting Association.
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 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.

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.

September 21, 2011, Judge Sherlock's decision appealed. 
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 enforcement.
Case: Lair et al v. Gallik et al.  Case Number: 1:2011cv00102

October 2010, District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock determined that Montana's Corrupt Practices Act was unconstitutional.  The litigants were:
    Western Tradition Partnership, Colorado-based activist group.
    Champion Painting, a Bozeman sole proprietor corporation.
    Montana Shooting Sports Association, Inc.  Missoula

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.

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.

Related resources

  • "No legislation of any importance for the benefit of the people can pass. A small minority are blocking bills that are useful, and permitting only worthless ones to reach the governor, and if it should, it would probably receive its death blow from his official ax."
    Fairview Times: 1911

  • "Disclosure is the less-restrictive alternative to more comprehensive speech regulations ... this Court affirms the application of... disclaimer and disclosure requirements."     Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission: 2010

  • Montana Corrupt Practices Act,
    Section 13-35-227(1)
    Montana Code Annotated

  • Campaign Finance and Practices Laws.

  • Administrative Rules of the Commissioner of Political Practices

  • For anyone with a burning desire to contact WTP/ATP, here's the info. Donny Ferguson, National Director of Media & Public Relations
    (703) 200-3669

  • The National Defense Authorization Act  allows the government to arrest and hold any U.S. citizen (even you) as a terrorist.  The military can hold you without trial and without the right to habeas corpus.

    The U. S. Constitution prohibits suspension of the right of habeas corpus except in the case of rebellion or invasion;  but then only if the public safety requires it.

    Under the National Defense Authorization Act, no proof of wrongdoing is required and those accused come under the ‘military commissions justice system.’ The accused is an unlawful enemy combatant, and may be renditioned to  'who knows where' to be held indefinitely while the country is at war.

    The legislation places U.S. citizens under martial law.  The United States is practiced at this.  Ask the Asian-Americans who were sent to WWII interment camps.

    The law gives the president the dictatorial power he requested.  By the way, the CIA, FBI and U.S. Attorneys office went on record in opposition to this action.
    Senator Rand Paul said "We're talking about American citizens who can be taken from the United States and sent to a camp at Guantánamo Bay and held indefinitely. It puts every single American at risk,... Really, what security does this indefinite detention of Americans give us?"

    "There are laws on the books now that characterize who might be a terrorist: someone missing fingers on their hands is a suspect according to the department of justice.
    Someone who has guns, someone who has ammunition that is weatherproofed, someone who has more than seven days of food in their house can be considered a potential terrorist,"  Sen. Paul