National authorities are praising Montana’s new campaign finance law as a vast improvement over the state’s former law, but they say it still needs toughening up to end anonymous “dark money” spent by groups known as incidental committees. Campaign finance law experts at the Campaign Legal Center and National Institute on Montana in State Politics each were pleased that Montana passed the stronger law. Both expressed concern that it doesn’t require incidental committees to report their donors.
“My overall view is it’s a pretty good bill that definitely will improve disclosure in Montana,” said Paul Ryan, senior legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit Washington, D.C., group. “Is it the toughest in the nation? No, I wouldn’t characterize it as that.”
Ryan, a University of Montana graduate, added: “I’d put Montana definitely in the top tier with disclosure. All in all, the state Legislature and the governor are to be commended. This is a great step forward for Montana voters to have more disclosure in elections.”
The Campaign Legal Center attorney said he’s hoping the law can be strengthened to require donors to incidental committees to be disclosed.