HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on Montana campaign contribution limits (all times local):
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl clarified the campaign contribution limits for political action committees.
While limits on individual contributions will rise modestly, the cap on political action committees will spike dramatically, he said, particularly in gubernatorial campaigns.
PACs can now contribute as much as $10,610 per election cycle instead of the $1,320 that had been in place earlier this week for contested races. PAC limits will also rise to $2,650 for other statewide offices, up from $640. The limit goes up to $800 for the state Senate and $400 for the House - instead of the previous $340 limit for both chambers.
“It’s a pretty good jump,” Motl said. “But at least there are still limits that everybody can see and deal with.”
Individuals can now contribute as much as $1,990 to gubernatorial candidates and up to $990 for other statewide contests per election cycle, which includes primary and general elections.
Montana officials say they will ask a federal judge for an immediate stay on a Tuesday ruling that allowed political parties to contribute unlimited amounts of cash to campaigns.
In seeking the stay, state Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said he worried about the chaos that could result if political parties launch a spending frenzy.
“The intent of the stay will be to restore current limits on political party contributions for the 2016 election cycle thereby providing candidates, committees and Montanans with stability,” Motl said in a statement Wednesday afternoon.
The state will seek the stay from U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell, the same judge who on Tuesday struck down for the second time the contribution limits approved by voters in 1994 as unconstitutional.
Until Tuesday, state law capped total contributions from political party committees to candidates, ranging from $850 per election for a state House candidate to $23,350 for a gubernatorial candidate. But Tuesday’s ruling did away with those limits.
The state, however, won’t appeal contribution limits for individuals and political action committees until after the November election, if it decides to do so.
Montana’s election campaign regulator has dismissed a four-year-old complaint against former gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill after a federal judge ruled for a second time that the state’s campaign contribution limits are unconstitutional.
Gov. Steve Bullock’s campaign manager alleged Hill violated campaign finance laws by accepting a $500,000 donation from the Montana Republican Party after U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell first struck down the state’s limits in October 2012.
An appeals court reinstated the limits and ordered Lovell to re-examine the case. On Tuesday, Lovell again ruled the contribution caps approved by voters in 1994 are unconstitutional.
Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl dismissed the complaint against Hill on Wednesday. Lovell called the allegations against Hill moot with his ruling, and Motl previously said he would defer to the court’s ruling.
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