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Montana group broke campaign laws, official says

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June 30, 2009

HELENA, Montana: Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Dennis Unsworth has issued a lengthy report saying that a Montana political action group "Montanans in Action" violated campaign finance reporting and disclosure laws in 2006. A complaint was filed in July of 2006 alleging that Montanans in Action failed to keep detailed and accurate contribution records, illegally laundered out-of-state contributions, unlawfully used electronic funds to receive contributions and spend money, in addition to numerous other violations.

Montanans in Action promoted three statewide ballot initiatives: one that would make it easier to recall judges (Constitutional Initiative 98), another that would limit growth of state spending (Constitutional Initiative 97) and another that would expand the definition of government takings (Initiative 154).[1]

According to Unsworth's report, most of the $1.17 million spent by Montanans in Action went to professional signature gatherers who helped qualify the measures. Another $600,000 went from the Montana group towards a property-rights measure in California earlier in 2006. Unsworth and Jonathan Motl, a Helena attorney, claim that MIA has refused to provide critical documents on their campaign-related spending and even to be interviewed by a state investigator. Trevis Butcher, treasurer and chief spokesperson of MIA, continually insists that their organization has been nothing but cooperative with the authorities, and insists that their accusations are "spurious," "absurd" and constitute nothing more than a witch hunt.[2]

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