HELENA — As the June 3 primary election draws near and printed material from outside groups starts showing up in voters’ mailboxes across Montana, state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl is advising these groups and candidates in advance of the rules.
Late last week, Motl sent letters to eight groups he suspects or knows will be involved in campaign-related mailers, primarily in contested legislative primaries.
The letters advised the groups of reporting requirements — and also told them that when they report on Thursday, they must include some future, planned spending as well.
“If you have, in process, letters and campaign material that you’re going to be mailing out in the (following) week, and incurred an obligation, you must report that as well,” he said.
Motl said he sent out the letters because of what’s happened in Montana elections in 2008, 2010 and 2012, when some groups sending out attack mailers ignored finance-reporting requirements.
The only pre-primary election reporting deadline for PACs in Montana is Thursday – just 12 days before the June 3 primary.
Reports filed this Thursday are supposed to include a PAC’s spending through Saturday.
Motl’s letter to the PACs and “incidental political committees” said if they’ve made obligations for future spending in the final 12 days before the election, they must report that, too.
Motl said he wants to make sure the public and candidates know what the PACs have done and, in some cases, will be doing.
“The commissioner’s office is the voice of Montanans, when it comes to the way in which elections lead to better governance,” he said. “The fairer the election, the more acceptance there will be of the winner, and the better the governance will be afterwards.”