Complaint Filed Against MT Dems Over Leg Campaign Committee


A complaint has been filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices (COPP) against the Montana Democratic Party after it was discovered that the Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (MDLCC) is not registered with COPP as a separate political committee from the state party.

The complaint — Adams v. Montana Democratic Party — notes that the state Democratic party maintains separate social media and donation accounts for the party itself and the MDLCC, and alleges that donors could be mislead into believing they are donating specifically to legislative races when their money could be used for other activities.

“Democratic donors who are told they are giving money specifically to help candidates in the state legislature may be unknowingly funding activities other than the state legislative races through the state political party’s committee and use of pooled funding,” states the complaint.

The complaint states Montana law requires with entities of 2 or more individuals with expressed political goals should register with COPP and are then subject to all campaign reporting requirements.

An email from Montana Democratic Party Finance Director Trent Bolger to COPP is included in the complaint. In the email, Bolger states that the MDLCC is essentially just an “internal division” within the state party.

“When people give to the party to be used for Montana Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (MDLCC) it is reported as a contribution to the State Democratic Party,” Bolger states in the email. “MDLCC doesn’t have their own Tax ID and has to use the State Democratic Party disclaimers as they are only an internal distinction within the State Party itself.”

Bolger then compares the MDLCC to the party’s internal communications and finance departments saying that the “committee” is really just the “legislative department.”

Publicly, the MDLCC maintains a separate personality from the state party. The MDLCC maintains its own Facebook and Twitter accounts. It also has its own donation page on the liberal website ActBlue, and sends out its own fundraising letters.

The explanation that the MLDCC is an “internal division” within the state party is addressed in the complaint which notes that the Montana Democratic communications and finance departments do not maintain a separate public personality from the party.

The complaint also includes COPP filings showing Democratic State Rep. Zach Brown of Bozeman listing expenditures specifically to MDLCC rather than the state party and a donation made by Democratic Party employee Bridger Bukantis whose employer is listed as MDLCC, not the party itself.

“Statute specifically refers to naming and labeling of committees as well as their filing and disclosure as an important partof transparency in the Montana political process, and the MDLCC has even used the common”committee” in its title which further indicates that they are their own entity with separately stated goals and purpose,” the complaint concludes.

The complaint was filed by Bozeman resident and former Montana Republican employee Timothy Adams. Adams is also a former writer for Media Trackers.

Montana Democratic Party Spokesman Bryan Watt did not respond to Media Trackers’ request for comment.

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