Montana Corporate Contributions Initiative, I-166 (2012)

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Corporate Contributions Initiative
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Type:Initiated state statute
Referred by:Citizens
Topic:Elections and campaigns
Status:Approveda Overturnedot

The Corporate Contributions Amendment, also known as I-166, was on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot in the state of Montana as an initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure, proposed by the group Stand with Montanans, determined state policy on prohibiting corporate contributions and expenditures in state and national elections. The measure sought to charge state lawmakers with furthering the state's policy on the matter and ask congressional delegates to support efforts to overrule the Citizens United decision by amending the U.S. Constitution.[1][2] In December 2013, the initiative was struck down by a lower state court in Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County.[3]

Election results

See also: 2012 ballot measure election results

The following are unofficial election results:

Montana I-166
Approveda Yes 343,549 74.67%

Results are certified and final.

Official results via Montana Secretary of State.

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language that voters saw read:[4]



Ballot initiative I-166 establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings, and charges Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, to implement that policy. With this policy, the people of Montana establish that there should be a level playing field in campaign spending, in part by prohibiting corporate campaign contributions and expenditures and by limiting political spending in elections. Further, Montana’s congressional delegation is charged with proposing a joint resolution offering an amendment to the United States Constitution establishing that corporations are not human beings entitled to constitutional rights.

[] FOR charging Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, with implementing a policy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights.

[] AGAINST charging Montana elected and appointed officials, state and federal, with implementing a policy that corporations are not human beings with constitutional rights.


Until its reversal by the U.S. Supreme Court on June 25, 2012, the state of Montana had a ban on corporate contributions to political campaigns. The 1912 law came from a ruling made by the Montana Supreme Court and had remained intact for 100 years.[5] Though this law was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court's recent decision, the ballot measure remains unaffected. The measure did not seek to establish an explicit ban on contributions but rather sought to determine state policy regarding the matter.


Jon Motl, attorney for Stand with Montanans and sponsor for the measure, said, "Here we have political campaigns, you have to talk, you have to speak. That is the essence of political campaigning, it's how society changes direction, it's how it decides which political direction it's going to move in. But the speech has to be fair. If it's not fair people lose political faith in their systems."[2]



Opponents said that the measure was a wasted effort because it ran contrary to the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision. They said that even if it passed it would not hold up in court and would not reverse that court case's outcome.[9]


2012 measure lawsuits
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Ballot text
Campaign contributions
Motivation of sponsors
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Initiative process

On Monday, July 23, 2012, a lawsuit was filed with the Montana Supreme Court aimed at blocking the measure from the ballot this fall. The lawsuit was filed by Sen. David Lewis (R-42), businessman Phil Lilleberg, and the group Montanans Opposed to I-166. The complaint filed with the court stated that the measure "is not legally sufficient to appear on the state’s general election ballot, and that the statements prepared for the petition and the ballot do not meet the requirements of (state law)."[10]

On Friday, August 10, the Montana Supreme Court delivered a ruling keeping the measure on the November ballot. The court ruled on the issue saying, "The petition does not allege nor does this Court find that the petition was legally insufficient as to the requirements for submission of a proposed ballot issue." Within hours of the decision, lawyers for Montanans Opposed to I-166 filed a separate lawsuit challenging the measure with the United States District Court for the District of Montana.[11]

Montana District Court Judge David Cybulski announced that he would not rule on the merits of I-166 before the election. He would, however, address whether or not Attorney General Steve Bullock and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch acted incorrectly when they allowed I-166 on the ballot. If Bullock and McCulloch were found to have made a mistake by placing the measure on the ballot, the court could have ordered election officials to not count votes for the initiative.[9]\

However, this did not come to fruition.

In December 2013, a lower state court struck down I-66 in Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County. It invalidated the portion of the initiative which required state legislators to craft an amendment to the state constitution that would overturn Citizens United v Federal Election Commission. The ruling was based on a 1984 Montana Supreme Court case in which an initiative that ordered state legislators take specific action was struck down. Rickert v McCulloch, Lewis and Clark County did uphold the part of I-166 that states: "unlimited corporate donations creates a dominating impact on the Montana political process and inevitably minimizes the impact of individual Montana citizens."[3]


See also: Polls, 2012 ballot measures
  • A Public Policy Polling survey conducted on September 10-11, 2012, found that 53 percent were in support of the measure, while 24 percent were opposed, and 23 percent were undecided. The poll was based on a pool of 656 likely voters and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percent.[12]

     Position is ahead and at or over 50%     Position is ahead or tied, but under 50%

Date of Poll Pollster In favor Opposed Undecided Number polled
Sept. 10-11, 2012 Public Policy Polling 53% 24% 23% 656

Path to the ballot

See also: Montana signature requirements

To gain ballot access for the November 2012 ballot, supporters needed to collect 24,337 valid signatures from registered voters. In addition, those signatures needed to be submitted by the June 22, 2012, petition drive deadline.

Reportedly, supporters turned in over 40,000 signatures by the deadline.[13][14]

According to information retrieved from the Montana Secretary of State website on July 11, the measure was certified for the ballot with 25,146 signatures.

Similar measures

See also

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External links

Additional reading