Posted: Oct 5, 2012 6:42 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)
This week's court ruling calling for campaign contribution limits to be eliminated in Montana could be somewhat of a last-minute game-changer in the gubernatorial race.
Democrat candidate Steve Bullock was immediately vocal in his opposition of the ruling, but Republican Rick Hill is quickly embracing the change.
Under the state law, individuals and political action committees were prohibited from donating more than $630 to a candidate for governor, while political parties could donate no more than $22,000.
The state Commissioner of Political Practices, who is the state's election regulator, is still trying to sort out exactly what the ruling means.
If it means individuals and PACs can now donate unlimited amounts of money to gubernatorial candidates, Bullock says it won't matter as he will not accept money above the old limits.
Bullock calls the change destructive "for Montana's citizen democracy, and disturbing for those of us who believe that democracy is not for sale."
However, Hill says he will be playing by the new rules.
Hill's spokesperson issued the following statement: "Steve Bullock's crocodile tears about the ruling are just an attempt to mask the fact he has taken nearly $200,000 from New York, California, and Washington D.C. contributors and that his out-of-state special interest allies have spent nearly $2-million dollars in Montana to benefit his campaign."
This is the third major change to Montana's campaign laws during this election cycle.
First the courts struck down the state's ban on corporate politicking.
Then, just weeks ago, a judge threw out Montana's ban on political party endorsements for judicial candidates.
As the current Montana attorney general, Bullock plans to file an emergency stay with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
His office hopes that a stay would put the elimination of contribution limits at least on hold for now.