During the recent campaign for Missoula County Sheriff, the law firm of Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind hosted a fundraising get together for Democrat Sheriff's candidate T.J. McDermott, that occurred on May 8.

Little did they know that just a few months later, they would be facing possible actions by Montana's Political Practices Commissioner, Jonathan Motl for a violation of campaign finance laws.

According to the decision released by Motl's office, the law firm made illegal campaign contributions of goods and services to a total of over $1,300 to the McDermott campaign.

Shareholder with the firm, Molly Howard, said on Thursday, that Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind has cooperated fully with Motl's investigation.

"We don't have anything to hide," Howard said. "In putting together this fundraiser for T.J. McDermott, there was no intent to circumvent the rules. We, as a law firm, participate in lots of civic activities, and we believe part of that participation is our involvement in political matters."

Howard said the the findings of Commissioner Motl are instructive.

"There have been changes in terms of like-kind and in-kind contributions are considered by the commissioner's office," she said. "We find the order from Commissioner Motl's office to be instructive, and we assume we're going to get further instructions from him as this thing progresses. We offered to host a fundraiser for Mr. McDermott, and we have both been taken to task for failing to do a couple of things, and we intend to remedy those."

Howard responded to Motl's conjecture that there is a 'culture' in Missoula that tends to allow this kind of incident to occur.

"Missoula is a very politically involved city," she said. "I could see that there could be a greater percentage based on the climate in Missoula, that we have a lot of people who are interested in getting involved with politics. I don't see that Missoula is any less willing to comply with the rules and regulations associated with fundraising for political candidates."

That being said. Howard reiterated the firm's willingness to abide by the campaign laws as described by Commissioner Motl.

"At this point, we don't have final word from Mr. Motl," she said. "We intend to cooperate with the office, and as I said, we see this as instructive, and we hope to learn how to do these things better in the future."

When asked about hosting a fundraiser for another candidate in the future, Howard said they would keep the campaign rules close at hand.

"We'll probably tattoo the rules on our forehead, I think," she said.

Shareholder with the firm, Datsopoulos, MacDonald and Lind, Molly Howard

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