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Legal Victory Erases Contribution Limits to Political Candidates in Montana

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As of a ruling on October 3, there are no contribution limits for political candidates in Montana.

The case, known as Doug Lair et al, vs Steve Bullock et al, was decided today in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit by Judge James Lovell.

According to plaintiff’s attorney James Brown, the ruling strikes down “individual contribution limits, PAC contribution limits and aggregate contribution limits that political parties can give to their own candidates.”

Before today, Montana had one of the lowest contribution limits in the nation. For state legislature and P.S.C candidates the individual contribution limit was fixed at $160.

The plaintiff argued that the low contribution limits “were unconstitutional such that the made it difficult for candidates in Montana to mount effective campaigns.”candidates to

Discussion with Attorney James Brown:

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Brown says that the ruling will likely provide a narrow window for campaign donations though, as he expects that Attorney General Steve Bullock “will file a request to the court to stay his decision pending an appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of appeals.

If the judge grants such a request, campaign limits will be reinforced until the case is decided by a higher court.

Brown says that the campaign contribution situation Montana is currently going through is not unprecedented, citing the striking down of Vermont’s contribution limits in 2006.

The ruling does nothing to Montana’s disclosure laws and all donations will have to be reported as usual. Brown says that the legislature will have the ability and most likely will set higher donation caps in the next session.

At present the only contribution limit that is left is there is still an aggregate limit that political action committees can give.

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