Commissioner – Chairman Comment on Charges Against Former Candidate Rick Hill [YouTube]
On Wednesday, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl said his office will be re-activating a complaint against 2012 Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Hill for accepting a $500,000 donation.
Motl told KGVO News that he put the original complaint in suspense while the 9th U.S, Circuit Court of Appeals was looking the issue of limiting campaign donations.
"Now that the decision has come out and has vacated or voided the court order, that means that the campaign contribution limits are in effect, and were in effect when Mr. Hill took the $500,000 contribution," Motl said. "So now, we'll have to reopen and deal with that complaint."
Motl said any decision that comes down from his office will be fair to both the people of Montana and to Rick Hill, and that candidates will have a clear picture of the rules concerning campaign financing from the very beginning of any political campaign.
"We're currently drafting rules and regulations to implement the changes in the Montana law for the 2016 election cycle," he said. "We're going to finish that before we look at the 2012 complaints, including Mr. Hill's."
Montana Republican Party Chairman Will Deschamps wasted little time in responding to Motl's action.
"My concern with the Commissioner of Political Practices is that he's kind of jumping the gun," Deschamps said. "This case is still in court, and the judge has to decide one way or the other, so Mr. Motl is getting well out in front of the operation, because we don't know what the judge's decision will be. The ruling came from the three-judge panel in the 9th U.S. Circuit, so it could go either to the full panel of judges, or all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court."
The Associated Press reports that the ruling by a three-judge panel from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a Montana case could make it more difficult for states to defend their restrictions on the amount of money that individual donors give candidates in state elections.