As part of the state’s new election disclosure law, Montana’s commissioner of political practices has proposed a rule aimed at attack ads masquerading as educational. It has become common for “social welfare” organizations to send postcards to voters or broadcast TV ads in the days before an election. State Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, has a pending political practices complaint against the Taxpayers for Liberty, the National Association for Gun Rights and American Tradition Partnership, among others, which includes examples of attack ads that would be considered electioneering under the new rule.
The ads don’t necessarily say to vote against Tutvedt, but the message is clear, said Commissioner of Political Practices Jon Motl. “We didn’t have electioneering communication covered before,” Motl said, explaining that under the existing rules those ads were considered “issue advocacy.”
… “This has to do with expenses. You’re going to report the full expense of everything made 60 days before the start of voting,” Motl said. “Some of this stuff they claimed was issue advocacy was ridiculous. It was definitely express advocacy (for or against a candidate) but they got by with it because we were asleep at the switch.