May 9, 2011 •
Governor to Make New Appointment
Jennifer Hensley, who has held the position of Commissioner of Political Practices since her nomination in January of 2011, was refused confirmation by the Senate. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a brief confirmation hearing on Hensley’s nomination, but never voted on her nomination before adjournment of the legislative session.
Governor Schweitzer asked the top four Republican and Democratic legislative leaders to send him a list of nominees for the position by May 11. The Governor may choose a nominee from the list or make an independent appointment to serve out the remainder of Hensley’s six-year term.
November 24, 2010 •
Political Groups Seek to Invalidate Several Campaign Finance Laws and Challenge the Authority of the Office of Political Practices
Western Tradition Partnership and the Montana Citizens for Right to Work have filed suit challenging several Montana campaign finance laws that impose “onerous and constitutional burdens upon (those) engaged in political speech.” The suit seeks to exempt the two groups from campaign finance laws and further investigation by the state, but also claims the Office of Political Practices’ entire investigative process is unconstitutional.
Montana Political Practices Commissioner Dennis Unsworth ruled October 21 that Western Tradition Partnership is a political committee and had violated state law by failing to report campaign-related spending or its donors. The groups maintained in their complaint that they engage in “issue advocacy” communication and are not subject to Montana’s political committee laws, and that the laws themselves are unconstitutionally vague.