HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A state judge has ruled that American Tradition Partnership violated Montana's state campaign-finance and election laws.

Lee Newspapers of Montana reports that District Judge Jeff Sherlock of Helena on Friday ruled the group in 2008 acted as a political committee and must report its spending and donors.

Sherlock cited the group's failure to turn over records requested by the court in making his decision.

American Tradition Partnership claims tax-exempt status as a nonprofit social welfare organization that does not advocate for specific candidates and as a result shouldn't have to reveal its members and spending.

But Sherlock called that a "subterfuge to avoid compliance" with state laws.

ATP attorney James Brown says the group's board of directors is considering its next move.