Commissioner of Political Practices adopts new campaign finance disclosure rules

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HELENA, Montana — The Commissioner of Political Practices has adopted new campaign finance rules that he says will improve the transparency and reporting of money spent to influence elections in Montana.

Commissioner Jonathan Motl filed the rules with the Secretary of State's Office on Tuesday. He said they will be in effect during the 2016 campaign season.

The new rules require candidates and political committees to file their reports electronically, which will make them immediately available online in a searchable form. The rules require candidates to file campaign finance reports at both 35 days and 12 days before elections. The 35-day reporting requirement is new.

The rules also require third-party groups to report spending if their communication mentions a candidate or uses an image of them within 90 days of an election.

Twenty-three Republican legislators who oppose to the rules have requested a poll of all 150 state lawmakers to determine whether they comply with the intent of the Legislature's bill, called the Disclose Act.

The State Administrative and Veterans Affairs Committee decided Tuesday to mail out the ballots on Dec. 1 and require that they be returned by Dec. 21 with the goal of having the rules and the results of the poll published in the Montana Administrative Register on Jan. 8. The rules will take effect the day after publication.

The results of the legislative poll will not change the rules, but they could be used as evidence in court if a lawsuit is filed to block the rules.

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