HELENA – The petition for a voter initiative to shine a light on political “dark money” in Montana is ready to gather signatures to attempt to place it on the 2014 ballot, supporters said Tuesday.

The measure is Initiative 168, which, if approved by voters, would require public reporting of all campaign-related spending by independent groups, as well the group’s donors.

I-168 also would add new definitions of the type of spending that must be reported, including any “communication” that directly names a candidate for state office in Montana.

“I-168, the Stop Dark Money Initiative, ensures the voters’ right to know who is sending political messages in Montana and who is paying for them,” said Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, a lead supporter of the measure. “They will have information about who is influencing our state and local races.”

Under current laws, some nonprofit groups can avoid reporting what they spend on campaign-related advertisements or who their donors are by saying they are an “educational” group that focuses on issues rather than campaigns.

In past Montana elections, they have distributed fliers or paid advertisements attacking candidates, but say the material is merely educating voters on the candidates’ position on issues.

When the specific source of these groups’ money goes undisclosed, it is often called “dark money.”

“Too many of our legislators appear to be beholden to large, out-of-state donors,” Peterson said. “This initiative will help keep Montanans in control of their own state and their own representation.”

To place I-168 on the 2014 ballot, supporters must obtain the signatures of 24,175 registered voters statewide and, in at least 34 state House districts, signatures of at least 5 percent of the number of people who voted for governor in the past election.

Supporters said they are looking for volunteers to gather signatures on the petitions, which have been approved by the secretary of state for circulation.

(2) comments


This initiative is not the same as the bill that went through the legislature. It only does one thing, require reporting of major donors by everyone engaging in political activity. "this long initiative" is only five pages because so much of the whole section of law with any minor change has to be completely cited. The changes fit on less than one page. Unions and out-of-state groups are included in the disclosure requirements. It doesn't stop anyone from influencing voters, just requires that major donors be disclosed. You don't seem to be very in the know, you are spouting misinformation.


This initiative is a joke! It will turn out just like the Medical Marijuana initiative did. The voters thought they understood what they voted for but was duped, the same goes for this initiative. A bill was proposed this past legislative session but it didn't pass muster because it needed a lot of work on it. They were upset, so now his group wants to bring it to the voters who will be uninformed about the contents of this long initiative. Just to inform voters, the money will still come in by the boatloads from UNIONS and OUT-OF-STATE groups & individuals even if you pass this initiative. Will this stop Planned Parenthood, Montana Women Vote, Forward Montana, MT Organizing Project, MTPRIG, MT Conservation Voters & etc. who are non-profit groups from influencing voters too? And BTW, where is the money coming from to promote & inform voters about this initiative & to pay signature gatherers? Make sure to check their reports!

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