News Release – Political Practices


(for immediate release, August 27, 2016)

MISSOULA – Montana’s primer advocate for gun owners has demanded answers
to critical questions from the political appointee currently enforcing
campaign laws in Montana. Gary Marbut, president of the Montana
Shooting Sports Association (MSSA) sent a letter
Friday to Jonathan Motl, the controversial Commissioner of Political
Practices (COPP), asking how the Commissioner could justify using wrong
facts in a Decision derogatory to MSSA.

Marbut says that Motl’s handling of a Complaint about MSSA showed bias
and impropriety from the beginning because Motl chose to not publish
Marbut’s April 14th Response
to the Complaint in the public space of the COPP Website, although Motl
did choose to publish both the Complaint and his Decision there. “This
one-sided use of public funds makes the Commissioner’s effort look like
a dedicated attempt to smear MSSA and me,” Marbut said. About Motl’s
publication of the Complaint but non-publication of Marbut’s Response,
Marbut’s letter asks, “Am I being treated fairly?”

In his August 16th Decision,
Motl claims that Marbut and/or MSSA violated public disclosure law when
a submitted form failed to include a list of candidates MSSA would
support in the 2014 Primary Election. However, the Decision also admits
that the required list was indeed submitted. (Finding of Fact No 14:)
“The Commissioner determines that the disclosure set out in FOF No. 14
meets the requirements of Montana law.” (Decision, Page 8) The problem,
it seems, is that COPP attached the MSSA-provided list to the wrong COPP
form when two forms and the list arrived in the same envelope at the
COPP office. This error by COPP, Motl claims, proves that MSSA broke
the law.

In his August 25th letter to Motl, Marbut asks if it wasn’t actually
COPP that “fell short of its responsibility to keep the public informed
by failing to attach the provided list of candidates to the correct COPP

Motl’s Decision also faults MSSA for not providing quarterly Federal
Election Commission (FEC) reports to COPP. Motl’s Decision states, “…
MSSA filed no copies of its federal PAC (Political Action Committee, GM)
reports with COPP.” (Decision, Page 4) Rebutting this factually
incorrect claim by COPP, Marbut offers evidence in his letter to Motl
that he sent 37 quarterly FEC reports (also publicly available from the
FEC Website), not just the four reports Motl wanted, to COPP by email
when asked for them by COPP. Marbut also offers to send Motl a copy of
the email in which COPP acknowledged receipt of this decade of FEC reports.

In the section of Marbut’s letter addressing this SNAFU by COPP, Marbut
asks, “Does this flaw cause COPP to have failed in its due diligence to
have properly investigated this matter before issuing its derogatory

In his letter, Marbut asks several other relevant questions about Motl’s
conduct, rationale, and conclusions in this matter.

Commissioner Motl has shown a history of feeding his side of a case to
the media, while those subject to his enforcement action suffer bad
publicity in legally advisable silence. In order to correct this unfair
advantage wielded by Motl, Marbut has chosen to go public with his
Response to the original Complaint (previously hidden from public view
by Motl) and with his related questions for Motl about the recent
Decision. Marbut says, “With fair, open, and equal public disclosure of
the false facts used by Motl to justify his Decision in this case, and
exposure of a biased process, let the public examine those facts and
make up their own minds.”

Marbut concluded, “The power inherent in government offices must not be
used in attempt to punish or silence political opposition. The people
will not allow that to become standard practice to be used by whatever
clique is currently in power.”

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Information: Gary Marbut, 549-1252 or gary(AT)marbut(DOT)com

Original Complaint:

Response to Complaint:

COPP Decision:

Letter of questions about Decision: