Initiative to stem political `dark money’ ready for signatures

2013-10-08T16:39:00Z 2013-10-09T00:13:09Z Initiative to stem political `dark money’ ready for signaturesGazette State Bureau The Billings Gazette
October 08, 2013 4:39 pm  • 

HELENA — The petition for a voter initiative to shine a light on political “dark money” in Montana is ready to gather signatures to attempt to place it on the 2014 ballot, supporters said Tuesday.

The measure is Initiative 168, which, if approved by voters, would require public reporting of all campaign-related spending by independent groups, as well the group’s donors.

I-168 also would add new definitions of the type of spending that must be reported, including any “communication” that directly names a candidate for state office in Montana.

“I-168, the Stop Dark Money Initiative, ensures the voters’ right to know who is sending political messages in Montana and who is paying for them,” said Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, a lead supporter of the measure. “They will have information about who is influencing our state and local races.”

Under current laws, some nonprofit groups can avoid reporting what they spend on campaign-related advertisements or who their donors are by saying they are an “educational” group that focuses on issues rather than campaigns.

In past Montana elections, they have distributed fliers or paid advertisements attacking candidates, but say the material is merely educating voters on the candidates’ position on issues.

When the specific source of these groups’ money goes undisclosed, it is often called “dark money.”

“Too many of our legislators appear to be beholden to large, out-of-state donors,” Peterson said. “This initiative will help keep Montanans in control of their own state and their own representation.”

To place I-168 on the 2014 ballot, supporters must obtain the signatures of 24,175 registered voters statewide and, in at least 34 state House districts, signatures of at least 5 percent of the number of people who voted for governor in the past election.

Supporters said they are looking for volunteers to gather signatures on the petitions, which have been approved by the secretary of state for circulation.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Bills to expand net-metering killed by Senate panel

3 hours agoLoading…
House Republicans splitting Bullock's infrastructure bill

House Republicans splitting Bullock's infrastructure bill

7 hours agoLoading…
Engstrom, Cruzado update committee on higher-ed accountability measures

Engstrom, Cruzado update committee on higher-ed accountability measures

8 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Bill to reduce income taxes heard by Senate panel

Bill to reduce income taxes heard by Senate panel

8 hours agoLoading…
More GOP income tax bills tossed into the mix

More GOP income tax bills tossed into the mix

10 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Options coming for public swimming pool, carousel

Options coming for public swimming pool, carousel

11 hours agoLoading…

2 teens die in oil patch collision

11 hours agoLoading…
'Big, fat perch': Derby pleases serious and casual anglers alike

'Big, fat perch': Derby pleases serious and casual anglers alike

12 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Cigarette butt DNA leads police to suspected archery thief

Cigarette butt DNA leads police to suspected archery thief

12 hours agoLoading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses