HELENA – Charges that state Senate Majority Leader Art Wittich broke campaign-reporting laws were filed improperly and should be dismissed, an attorney for Wittich told a state judge Monday.

Carrie Wasserburger, an attorney in Wittich’s Bozeman law firm, also argued that state Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl is “stretching and exceeding his … authority” to pursue a political agenda against Republicans.

“This behavior needs to be put to a stop, which is what we’re asking the court to do today,” she told District Judge Jeff Sherlock of Helena.

Motl, who has made numerous filings in the past year alleging Republican candidates accepted illegal campaign contributions in 2010, said he’s following the law, and that the case against Wittich should proceed.

He also said Wittich is trying to make a “political argument” rather than one based on the law. Motl said his office pursues complaints that are filed, and that most of the current crop of complaints has been filed against Republicans – by other Republicans.

Motl said he has a duty to investigate complaints and enforce the law requiring candidates to report their campaign donations and spending, and that he properly filed civil allegations against Wittich in Sherlock’s court.

Sherlock took the case under advisement and said he would rule later.

The civil charges against Wittich, filed earlier this year, are among several Motl has brought against Republican legislative candidates, accusing them of illegally coordinating with so-called “dark money” groups to attack their foes in GOP primary elections in 2010.

Dark-money groups are usually nonprofit groups that get involved in campaigns, but that don’t divulge their donors or, sometimes, their spending.

If the case proceeds, Sherlock will decide whether the charges against Wittich are valid and whether he should be removed from office as a penalty.

Wittich, the Republican state Senate majority leader since 2013, is running this year for a seat in the state House representing Belgrade.

Wittich has called Motl a “political hack” and asked Sherlock last month to dismiss the charges against him, claiming that Motl, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock and others are illegally conspiring to remove him from office.

On Monday, Wasserburger said Motl ignored the law when he filed charges against Wittich in District Court in Helena, rather than in Gallatin County, where Wittich lives.

The law requires that the charges be filed where the violations allegedly occurred, after consulting with the local county attorney, and that by choosing to file them in Helena, Motl may be denying Wittich his constitutional right to be tried by a jury of his peers, she said.

Motl argued that Wittich committed a filing violation and that the filing occurs at Motl’s office, in Helena. Motl said he properly consulted with the Lewis and Clark County attorney and then filed the charges in District Court in Helena.

Missoulian State Bureau reporter Mike Dennison can be reached at 1-800-525-4920 or by email at mike.dennison@lee.net.

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(4) comments

LosandfoundT
LosandfoundT

Tea-Party owned Republicans/GOP Fight to Protect Secret Donors...

Voter suppression the new GOP strategy:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/harold-meyerson-making-it-easier-to-buy-an-election-than-to-vote-in-one/2013/11/19/980fd138-514f-11e3-9e2c-e1d01116fd98_story.html

Democracy gone Astray:
http://democracyastray.blogspot.com/2012/07/senate-republicans-fight-to-protect.html

Senate Republicans fight to protect Secret Donors:
http://www.trendolizer.com/2012/07/senate-republicans-fight-to-protect-secret-donors.html

Senate Republicans filibustered The Discloser Act...:
http://3chicspolitico.com/2012/07/17/senate-republicans-filibustered-the-disclosure-act-blocking-transparency-in-campaign-financing/


Senate Republicans fight to protect Secret Donors-Videos:
http://video.search.yahoo.com/search/video?p=Senate+Republicans+Fight+to+Protect+Secret+Donors

Mooron Secret Donors:
http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=Senate+Republicans+Fight+to+Protect+Secret+Donors


Hi, I'm a Tea-Partier ... (it's nice to meet you):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnUfPQVOqpw

idiot state
idiot state

An awful lot of "campaign violation" complaints in that sparsely populated state; what's up with that? Are all the politicians crooks or is there a little Leftist game playing there? Seems like complaints are always against the Right. Is that an attempt by Democrats, who're not able to win in elections, to mess up the process? Sure seems that way to an outsider..

Readneck
Readneck

Actually, the right wingers cheat more. They can't win by telling the truth, so they get caught more often.

Run - A- Mook
Run - A- Mook

Your answer may be found below.

Bullock Taps Liberal Activist Who Was Cited for Campaign Violations to Run Election Integrity Office

By: Ron Catlett | May 21, 2013

Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock appointed Helena lawyer and longtime liberal activist Jonathan Motl as Montana’s new Commissioner of Political Practices on Monday. The appointment came despite strong opposition from Republicans over Motl’s decades of liberal campaign activism and previous citations for violating state campaign law.

Jonathan Motl Archives » Media Trackers
mediatrackers.org/tag/jonathan-motl

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