Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bullock bullish on challenge to Supreme Court ruling

Posted By on Wed, Oct 13, 2010 at 3:12 PM

Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock hasn't been cowed by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to allow corporate electioneering.

This week The Wall Street Journal takes notice of Bullock's belief that Montana's decades-old law that bans corporate contributions to political candidates could stand up to the controversial Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling.

Sued by three corporations seeking to influence the Nov. 2 legislative election, Attorney General Steve Bullock is arguing that Montana's Corrupt Practices Act of 1912 remains constitutional—even though the Supreme Court scotched similar provisions of the 2002 federal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, known after its sponsors as McCain-Feingold. ...

The case provides a glimpse of how the Supreme Court's January decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case is playing out in states, some of which have a history of curtailing corporate and union activity in elections.

Montana is the only state known to be defending its law among the 24 states with laws threatened by Citizens United.

"Montana has a record, a history and a present that's different from what the Supreme Court had in front of it," says Mr. Bullock, a Democrat elected in 2008. "In Montana, we have a record that shows those expenditures did corrupt and do corrupt."

The plaintiffs in the case, as the Indy previously reported, are the Colorado-based Western Tradition Partnership, which calls itself "the leading organization fighting the anti-jobs, anti-taxpayer policy agenda of extreme environmentalist front groups," and Bozeman's Champion Painting, owned by Ken Champion, a member of the Gallatin County Campaign for Liberty and the Bozeman Tea Party. Champion, according to the lawsuit, "is concerned with the way inflation, taxation, and spending are exploiting, impacting, and bankrupting America and Montana's small businesses," and he seeks to spend corporate funds to support candidates with similar political beliefs.

A judge in Helena is expected to rule this week, setting the stage for appeals that could reach the Supreme Court.

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