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Monday, January 13, 2014

Montana Candidate Challenges Mandatory Disclosure of Opponent's Obamacare Record

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Friday, January 10, 2014
Montana House Candidate Challenges Law Requiring Complete Disclosure of Opponent's Flipflopping Voting Record

 On Wednesday, Montana legislative candidate Matthew Monforton asked a federal court to temporarily enjoin a state law requiring those that published campaign materials about a legislator's record to include every vote that legislator has made on that issue.

 Mr. Monforton, a candidate for Montana House District 69, is running in the 2014 Republican primary against encumbent Ted Washburn.  As part of his campaign, Mr. Monforton intends to expose Rep. Washburn's flipflopping voting record on Obamacare on a billboard and by letter to constituents.

 Under Montana law, for Mr. Monforton to publish materials about Rep. Washburn's
record, he must include a complete list of all of Rep. Washburn's votes "on the same issue."
"Rep. Washburn has been all over the map when it comes to Obamacare votes," says Monforton.
"There's not enough room on the billboard and my letter would have to be several
pages long to detail all of Washburn's flipflopping." He adds, "I should have the freedom to criticize Washburn's support of Obamacare without him using the government to penalize that criticism like he's done to other conservatives." Rep. Washburn filed a complaint with Montana's Commissioner of Political Practices against Ron Murray, who challenged Washburn in 2010, and Terry Bannon, a local Tea Party member. Commissioner Jonathan Motl recently reopened that complaint and is now investigating it.

 James Bopp, Jr., the attorney for Mr. Monforton, stated "there are the numerous First Amendment problems with the law. Not only is the law unclear about what it requires, it requires a speaker to engage in political speech only in a certain way and with considerable effort, undermining the speaker's ability to say what he wants, how he wants, when he wants."  "Voters can easily find a legislator's complete voting record online," he continues, "There is no justification for a law like this.  All it does is discourage robust political discussion and chill protected political speech. It is unconstitutional."

 The case is Monforton v. Motl, 6:14-cv-00002. The Complaint can be found athttp://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/cases/files/monforton-motl/complaint.pdf, and the Preliminary Injunction Memorandum is available athttp://www.jamesmadisoncenter.org/cases/files/monforton-motl/preliminary-injunction.pdf.

James Bopp, Jr. has a national constitutional law practice with The Bopp Law Firm, PC.

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