Montana Political Practices Commissioner Explains Why Sheriff McDermott’s Fine Was Cut in Half
According to Montana Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl, Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott and the law firm of Datsopolous, McDonald and Lind have reached a settlement with his office over improper campaign reporting during the last Sheriff’s race. Motl says the two parties were operating within a “long standing Missoula culture” that failed to disclose in-kind contributions.
"In this case, the law firm has a conference room, and they used the conference room to provide a fund raiser for Mr. McDermott and in the course of providing the fundraiser, contributed food, beverages, and staff time to invite people and didn't report and disclose the value of it," Motl said.
Motl says the two parties were cooperative. Although recent decisions indicate that the amount owed in a political practices case like this should be near the amount received in contributions, Motl says the fines were reduced.
"That's where you start when you have an evaluation, and then, because these people were willing to discuss this and resolve it without the necessity of litigation, you reduce it," Motl said. "So, it is reduced to less... well about half of the money that wasn't reported and disclosed ... about $1,000 each."
Motl commended both McDermott and the law firm of Datsopolous, McDonald and Lind for being “very forthright, responsible, and willing to resolve this.” Beyond the fines, Motl says the law firm will be holding continuing education courses this year and next to explain how to properly deal with campaign finance issues.