On Tuesday, April 8, Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl filed suit in District Court against Scott Sales of Bozeman over alleged campaign violations that occurred in the 2010 Gallatin County Commissioners race. 

Motl said Sales was the ninth Republican candidate to have worked in cooperation with Western Tradition Partnership and its allies in that he accepted illegal corporate contributions.

"We found sufficient facts to place the matter before the Montana First Judicial District, and that judge will determine how serious that violation is," Motl said. "Included within that finding is the potential to remove a sitting office holder, or a candidate from the ballot."

Sales is currently a sitting state senator from Bozeman, and if found to be in violation, could lose his elected position.

Motl responded to the charges by another Republican found to be in violation through his association with Western Tradition Partnership, Art Wittich of Bozeman, the current Majority Leader in the Montana Senate. Wittich said that Motl has been charged by Democratic Governor Steve Bullock to get as many Republicans off the ballot as possible before the next legislative session in 2015.

"These complaints against Mr. Wittich and Mr. Sales are filed by Republicans," Motl said. "The reason is because Mr. Wittich and Mr. Sales and other candidates chose to affiliate themselves with a corporate entity that didn't follow Montana's campaign practice law."

Motl said the circumstances under which these lawsuits have been filed are unprecedented in Montana political history.

"We're in new ground here," Motl said. "Since the political practices commission has been in existence, it has never been in a situation where it has placed this decision before a district court judge. We've never had an instance in Montana since 1975 where a corporation got so heavily involved in candidate campaigns like Western Tradition Partnership did in 2008, 2010 and 2012."

The primary election is in June, and Motl said he hopes the district court moves swiftly enough to decide the matter before then.

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl