Federal judge eases Montana rules on ethics complaints
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A federal judge has ruled that ethics complaints filed against elected officials in Montana should be made public.
U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris found that Montana’s confidentiality provision restricts speech regarding alleged wrongdoing by public officials.
But the judge determined that complaints filed against non-elected state employees should remain confidential until they get to the hearing stage.
Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan said Monday that his office will comply with the ruling.
Since 2001, state law has dictated that ethics complaints be kept confidential until a ruling is issued. The law was challenged by state Republican Rep. Brad Tschida, of Missoula, who filed a complaint about Gov. Steve Bullock’s use of a state plane for campaigning.