The lawsuit, Illinois Opportunity Project v Bullock, challenges Montana governor’s executive order requiring potential bidders for state contracts to disclose any donations to political parties, candidates and issue advocacy groupson the grounds it is stifling companies’ First Amendment rights while doing nothing to prevent corruption in the state contract bidding process.
This article originally appeared August 28, 2019 on Montana Public Radio.
The lawsuit announced Wednesday asks a federal judge to strike down Montana’s nearly year-old policy that requires certain businesses seeking contracts with the state to disclose donors and spending on elections.
The filing in U.S. District Court in Montana says Illinois Opportunity Project plans to send thousands of mailers to Montana voters in the final months of the state’s 2020 race for governor.
“This case is about the First Amendment,” says Daniel Suhr, an attorney with the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing Illinois Opportunity Project in the case.
On it’s website, the group says it promotes policies advancing “free markets and free minds.” In its legal filing the group wrote that it hopes to urge Montana candidates not to support campaign finance policies like those of Gov. Bullock.
“This nation has a long and proud history, stretching all the way back to the founding fathers and The Federalist Papers, of people engaging in the public square based on their ideas and the power of their ideas. Not based on their name or who is paying for it or publishing it, but based on the strength of the ideas themselves.”
Suhr is talking about anonymous advocacy or spending in politics; what some others, like Montana Gov. Steve Bullock refer to as ‘dark money.’