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MT’s Role in Corporate Money in Politics Examined

March 8, 2012

BILLINGS, Mont. - Montana's laws on limiting corporate spending in elections are in doubt because of recent court decisions related to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that granted corporations unlimited spending rights. A free panel discussion for the public about the issue is set for Friday in Helena, as part of the Montana Conservation Voters (MCV) annual meeting.

Ryan Busse, MCV board chairman, says the state's election laws were designed specifically in response to untamed corporate spending that led to widespread land damage and pollution - and taxpayers are still paying for clean-up today.

"You had Copper Kings outwardly, openly, bribing politicians to force policies that raped the state of its public resources."

Montana State Attorney General Steve Bullock will be part of the panel discussing the state's story and what might be done if the laws are struck down. The panel is scheduled at the Lewis and Clark Public Library at 3 p.m.

Busse, a long-time sportsman, says the state's actions to limit corporate influence are why Montana is home to so much wide open space and residents enjoy so many hunting and fishing opportunities today. Those things will be threatened if corporations can gain a heavy hand again to gain access to those resources, he warns.

"We don't think that corporations that have a profit motive to obtain those things again should be allowed to spend, willy-nilly, millions and billions of dollars in our elections to obtain them."

The public meeting also includes a panel discussion at 1:30 p.m. about the federal Safe Chemicals Act, which seeks to address toxic chemicals found in common household products.

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT