Governor Bullock’s dark money lawsuit against the IRS draws new support - news.mt.gov

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Governor Bullock’s dark money lawsuit against the IRS draws new support

The day after proposing legislation to keep foreign influence out of Montana elections, Bullock announces the State of New Jersey joins pending lawsuit against the IRS over dark money

Thursday, March 14, 2019/Categories: Governor's Office/Tags:

Governor Steve Bullock today announced that the State of New Jersey has joined his lawsuit against the IRS. The case challenges a decision by the IRS to stop collecting information from dark money groups about their donors.

“When the IRS makes decisions that threaten our democracy, it’s up to states to stand up and fight back,” said Governor Bullock. “It’s unacceptable that corporations, foreign interests, anybody can give to dark money groups and the IRS won’t even collect their names anymore.”

“I’m pleased New Jersey is joining this fight against the corrupting influence of dark money in politics,Bullock continued.

“Not only has the IRS made it easier for organizations to hide the sources of their money, it has done so behind closed doors, without seeking public input,” said New Jersey Attorney General Grewal. “Governor Bullock led the way by challenging the IRS's action almost immediately, and now New Jersey is proud to join the fight.”

The suit alleges that the IRS violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act when it decided to eliminate the disclosure requirement without notice or public comment. The suit can be found at this link.

Governor Bullock’s announcement that an additional state joined the dark money suit came just one day after Bullock announced a new measure in the legislature to limit the influence of foreign corporations and governments in Montana elections. The legislation, Senate Bill 326, would close a loophole created by the Citizens United case.

Since taking office, Governor Bullock has fought to keep dark money out of politics and ensure Montana elections are among the most transparent in the nation:

  • Bullock has been called “the biggest threat to Citizens United,”;
  • As Attorney General, Bullock personally led the effort to preserve Montana’s 100-year-old Corrupt Practices Act, taking the case for the state’s citizen democracy all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court;
  • In 2015, Governor Bullock worked with Republicans and Democrats to pass the DISCLOSE Act to require the disclosure of donors to independent group spending money on state-level elections. In 2016, the dark money groups that dominated the 2012 election in Montana largely stayed out;
  • In 2018, Governor Bullock issued a first-in-the-nation dark money executive order requiring government contractors to disclose secret spending; and
  • In 2018, Governor Bullock sued the IRS over its decision to shield dark money donors from disclosure.

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place Montana’s contribution limits, rejecting a challenge that would increase the amount of money in politics. The case dates back to Bullock’s time as Attorney General, when he defended the state’s limits.

Most recently, the United States Supreme Court also left in place Montana’s DISCLOSE Act, rejecting a challenge brought by the same law firm that brought the original Citizens United case.

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