Helena resident David Nielsen filed a campaign practices complaint against MCVAF in late December. As a registered political committee, the group is permitted to engage in these political actions. However, it failed to report its expenses as required. The commissioner determined that the group did in fact neglect to report its expenditures and referred the case to the Lewis and Clark County Attorney’s Office.
MCVAF spent nearly $9,000 in the Helena municipal elections last year. The organization also paid for live phone calls to voters during the 2021 campaign season in support of Feaver and Reed.
The organization also spent money on similar ads and actions in the Missoula and Billings municipal elections. The organization sent out campaign mailers within Helena supporting Mayor Wilmot Collins and city commission candidates Eric Feaver and Melinda Reed. All three candidates later won the election. The mailers said they were were “Paid for by Montana Conservation Voters Action Fund.”
Of the more than $30,224 MCVAF spent in campaign expenditures, more than $30,044 was reported 50 days after election day, according to the commissioner’s filings. Subscribe to our Daily Headlines newsletter. “Unfortunately, our vendor failed to submit the required reports related to our work in Helena,” Brown wrote in the statement. “As soon as we learned of his mistake, we submitted the reports, terminated the vendor, and are working to improve our processes so this doesn’t happen again. We regret this error, but we’ll continue our work protecting public lands, clean air, clean water and voting rights.”
In a statement, Jake Brown, MCVAF’s political director based in Helena, said his organization supports Montana’s campaign finance laws and “our state’s long tradition of transparency.” The case can be waived back to COPP to be resolved by payment of a negotiated fine. The case will return to the commissioner’s desk if the county attorney takes no action within 30 days.
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