Bullock betting on budget deal

Private prison in Shelby central to special session negotiations
By John S. Adams, Montana Free Press
As lawmakers prepare to gather in Helena on Monday, the question looming over the state Capitol is this: can Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock hammer out a deal with House and Senate Republicans, or will lawmakers leave town without an agreement and force Bullock to slash hundreds of millions in government programs and services to cover the state’s the $227 million budget shortfall? “As far as I know this is uncharted territory,” Republican House Speaker Austin Knudsen said in an interview Friday.

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Bullock campaign fined $3,000 for reporting violations involving state aircraft

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s campaign has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices to resolve a complaint stemming from Bullock’s use of a state aircraft during his 2016 re-election campaign. A three-page settlement document posted to the Commissioner of Political Practices’ website late Friday afternoon “finally resolves” the allegations against Bullock’s campaign committee, Friends of Steve Bullock.

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High Court upholds verdict in Wittich corruption case

The Montana Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed with a lower court’s finding that former Republican state lawmaker Art Wittich violated Montana’s campaign finance laws when he illegally coordinated with third-party political groups during his 2010 primary election campaign. In a unanimous 5-0 opinion written by Justice Beth Baker, the state Supreme Court concluded that former Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl properly investigated the case against Wittich, and they affirmed District Judge Ray Dayton’s decision to fine Wittich $68,232.58.

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Presidential Race to Return to Montana

By John S. Adams, Editor-in-Chief

(Editor’s Note: This is the first of two stories looking at the 2016 primary race ahead of Montana’s June 7 primary election. On Tuesday we’ll look at the Democratic race.)

In 2008, with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton nearly deadlocked in their race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Montana voters headed to the polls on June 3 not knowing who the party’s nominee would be.

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JURY: WITTICH ILLEGALLY COORDINATED

By John S. Adams, Editor-in-Chief

HELENA —It took a jury of six men and six women four hours Friday to find Bozeman Republican lawmaker Art Wittich illegally coordinated with non-profit third-party political groups during his 2010 primary election campaign. Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, the state elections enforcer who brought the civil lawsuit against Wittich for violations of campaign finances laws, told reporters after the trial that the jury’s decision will have lasting impacts on Montana elections.

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Testimony Winds Down in Corruption Trial

By John S. Adams, Editor-in-Chief

HELENA — State Rep. Art Wittich, the man accused of accepting illegal in-kind contributions and services from conservative nonprofit groups during his 2010 Senate race, took the witness stand in his own defense Thursday in Lewis and Clark County District Court. Wittich is on trial in a civil lawsuit brought by Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl, who has accused the Bozeman Republican of illegally coordinating with groups funded by the anti-union National Right to Work Committee.

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