Montana Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl is being sued for comments made during the last weeks of the 2016 general election. Missoula area representative Brad Tschida’s attorney, Mathew Monforton, says Motl acted in a partisan way when he accused Tshida of “official Misconduct” after Tshida spoke publicly about a pending ethics complaint against Governor Steve Bullock and Department of Commerce Director Meg O’Leary.

"The threats that Commissioner Motl made were made during one of your interviews a few weeks ago and he was quite clear that Representative Tschida would face criminal sanctions for his criticism of Governor Bullock and Director O'Leary. Commissioner Motl lied to the press about representative Tschida being criminally prosecuted in order to prevent from criticising Governor Bullock and Director O'Leary during the critical final week of the campaign.

Monforton says Motl acted in a partisan manner and should be forced to compensate Tschida for damages.

"Commissioner Motl made those threats in retaliation for representative Tschida's protected speech with regard to criticizing governor Bullock and Director O'Leary and that is something that the constitution does not permit. We have made a motion to strike down the unconstitutional gag rule and that will hopefully be heard by the judge next month."

Monforton says he believes there is strong free speech precedent in the Ninth Circuit Court to overturn the state law that restricts parties in an ethics complaint from speaking about their complaints publicly. KGVO has reached out to Motl for a comment, but has not yet received a response.