Montana’s Elections Commissioner Dismissed Allegation Against Ballot Issue – Republican State Senator Responds
On Monday, Montana Political Practices Commissioner Jonathan Motl dismissed an allegation from Montana State Senator Jeff Essman. Essman had claimed that Secretary of State Linda McCulloch had improperly used her office and staff to support a voter registration initiative that was on the ballot. Essman said Motl’s decision is further evidence that the office needs to be reformed.
"Well, I think the decision shows the need for fundamental reform and how the commissioner of political practice's office is structured," Essman said. "We're the only office of political practices in the country that has all the power, prosecution and decision making, in one individual. All of the other states have a division of that power."
Essman described Motl as a “partisan democrat.”
"It's not striking, you know, that when a 'partisan republican,' like myself, sees comments in one fashion and a 'partisan democrat' like Jonathan Motl, has a different take on the impact of those comments," Essman said. "But I think it shows the need for an independent prosecutor and an independent judge in that commissioner's office."
Motl was appointed by the governor, but has not yet been approved by the legislature.
Essman said the legislature will definitely look into reforming the political practices office in January.
Motl rejected the charged in the Monday ruling and said there was no advocacy expressed in the newsletter. he said McCulloch should be commended for her raising awareness of voter registration opportunities.