Governor Bullock issued the following statement in response to today’s decision in federal district court that dismissed a case brought by an out-of-state dark money group challenging his executive order increasing transparency on dark money spending:
“Out-of-state dark money groups continue to put up smoke and mirrors in an attempt to corrupt our elections in Montana, but they should know well by now that Montana’s elections aren’t for sale,” Governor Bullock said. “Once again, Montana’s proud, successful history of standing up to out-of-state dark money groups shines a light.”
In 2018, Governor Bullock signed a first-of-its kind executive order requiring the recipients of major government contracts to disclose dark money spending in elections. The order represents a significant new step for transparency in government. Under the executive order, government contractors who have spent over $2,500 in the past two years in elections are required [nam05.safelinks.protection.outlook.com] to disclose their donations. The order covers contributions to so-called “dark money” groups that are otherwise not required to disclose their donors.
Backed by the same lawyers involved in the disastrous Citizens United decision, an out-of-state dark money group called Illinois Opportunity Project sued to challenge the executive order, arguing that it intended to send mailers influencing Montana elections in 2020 but that the group worried about its ability to fundraise if its donors’ identities were subject to transparency. After oral argument last week, the United States District Court for the District of Montana today granted summary judgment in favor of the State of Montana, ending the dark money group’s attempt to gut the executive order.
A copy of the court’s order is attached.