Bullock introduces campaign finance reform, swears off dark money

Posted at 8:27 PM, Feb 05, 2015
and last updated 2015-02-05 21:27:24-05

HELENA — Montana’s Democratic Governor Steve Bullock says corporate money, especially from secret donors, is corrupting politics.

Thursday, he unveiled a package of campaign finance bills to help rein in that cash, particularly the “dark money,” whose origins are generally not disclosed.

He also promised that in his new role as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, he would not spend any dark money. That would be a change from previous activities of the DGA and its Republican counterpart, which have accepted money through nonprofits that in turn have benefitted from undisclosed donors.

“If Montanans are to accurately judge and understand the political attacks that have become so common in our elections, they should at least have the opportunity to see who’s funding those attacks,” Bullock said at a press conference announcing the bills.

SenATOR Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip) introduced the Montana Disclose Act. He said, “When somebody’s hiding in the shadows and gut-shoots you, you have a right to know who’s taking a shot at you.”

The bill would require disclosure of spending for any “electioneering communication” made within 60 days of when voting begins in any election; require disclosure for all political expenditures or contributions, regardless of the contributor’s tax status; and increase the frequency and length of time reporting is required.

Bullock also announced three other campaign finance bills. The Republican-controlled Legislature has already killed eight other campaign finance reform efforts this session.

Chris Schipp, executive director of the Montana Republican Party, dismissed Bullock’s promise of no dark money at the DGA, repeating the GOP accusation that Bullock is hypocritical for campaigning against big money in politics while also having a key role in raising it.

“That means he’s going to have to disclose all of their donors. That’s a policy that the DGA has never had in place before,” he said. “We expect this one to be just another broken promise.” 

RGA officials in Washington, D.C. did not respond to an inquiry as to whether it would follow Bullock’s no-dark-money pledge.