Montana Judge Dismisses Some Counts in Campaign Finance Case - State and Federal Communications

December 12, 2012  •  

Montana Judge Dismisses Some Counts in Campaign Finance Case

MontanaA Montana judge has dismissed parts of a complaint brought by an organization seeking to block disclosure of its activities that the state believes to be political activity.

On Monday, December 10, 2012, District Court Judge Jeffrey M. Sherlock issued an order dismissing five counts from the court complaint of American Tradition Partnership (ATP), striking additional requests for relief made by ATP, ordering ATP to comply with previously made discovery requests, and requiring ATP to pay the attorney fees and costs incurred by the state in bringing the initial motion to discovery and the motion for sanctions.

Judge Sherlock was upset at ATP’s apparent refusal to comply with his orders, writing, “Never in this author’s 24 years on the bench has he had a litigant flatly refuse to comply with two discovery orders.”

ATP had initially brought the court action against the state in 2010 to prevent Montana from classifying the organization as a political committee required to disclose expenditures and contributions. ATP maintains it is an educational organization not subject to political disclosure and disclaimer statutes.

The organization, known as Western Tradition Partnership (WTP) when it initially filed suit, additionally maintains the state’s statutes are unconstitutional and has repeatedly raised this objection is its discovery responses. Judge Sherlock ended his decision decreeing, “The Court is no longer interested in hearing WTP’s objections. All the Court wants is answers to the questions that have been propounded.”

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