Montana Seeks Control Over Central Committees
Montana Representative Frank Garner from Kalispell Montana introduced a bill that expands the State of Montana control over political parties. HB318 passed the republican majority house chamber with a 61 to 38
A hearing was held Monday before the Montana Senate State Administration Committee where HB318 was brought to the committee for passage to the full Senate.
Representative Garner pushed HB318 on the merits that the local political central committees do not have the proper oversight to maintain transparency and accountability to the people.
Mr. Garner purports that the legislation will prevent abuse and is a guard against jealousy. He goes on to say that HB318 will benefit the establishment of rules and expectations within committees.
HB318 was brought forward by several Republican activists that were disenfranchised with the leadership of the Cascade County Central Committee in Great Falls Montana.
The established central committee faced a forced takeover last year by a group of angry “republican in name only” members. The coup failed because they lacked full legal authority under the party platform rules to accomplish their mission.
We asked Chairwoman of the Cascade County Republican Central Committee, Sheridan Buck for the committee position on HB318. On behalf of the Cascade County Central Committee she offered the following:
“The old adage states that all politics are local. Republican politics in Montana has been a grassroots effort with its base as the Precinct Captains. All decisions including choosing candidates flows upward from the bottom. Democrat politics are never local but are controlled from the top down. The local committees are instructed how to act and speak by the party bosses. The Republican system is about to be destroyed.
HB 318 is a weaponized revenge bill targeting not only the Cascade County Republican Central Committee, but in reality, it will effect all county central committees of all political parties. HB 318 will determine how business is conducted and who is allowed to associate within the organization. HB 318 claims to protect a voter’s rights, but it is nothing more than a bill designed to move political power from your neighborhood, to the top in Helena.
If HB 318 is signed into law the results will make a citizen’s right to associate and participate in their local government burdensome. It will be the state officials, no matter their party affiliation, who will determine what happens locally, no matter which party.
The Cascade County Republican Central Committee is unafraid and unapologetic. We have stood our ground against the “responsible” Republicans and their Democrat allies. We have exposed voting records and dubious actions. We have been targeted because we dare to stand on the Republican Party Platform and demand that the so called ”responsible” Republicans do so as well.
HB 318 boils down to this: Central Committees are either a private organization or they are not. HB 318 seeks state control of the central committee, regardless of party. HB 318 will define who can participate in any political party. Freedom of association and the freedom to organize will be lost.
Government control from the top down does not belong in Montana and will certainly destroy the grassroots efforts statewide. The old adage will need to be changed too, “all politics are controlled by the state’.”
Montana GOP Chairwoman Debra Lamm initially sided with the established Cascade County committee. The Montana GOP rules subcommittee also agreed that no violations of party rules were identified.
Several of the elected representatives from the Great Falls area in retaliation, put together HB318 to achieve the original attempt of controlling all actions related to the Republican Party Central Committees.
Proponents of the legislation brought forward examples of experience where if the rule of law were applied to local political committees the rights of the voters would be better served.
The proponents of the legislation claim that illegal meetings facilitated by committee leadership are rampant and a regulatory checks and balances need to be instituted to provide for a fair process open and available to the people.
Opponents of the legislation came forward with multiple concerns including government overreach. Several challenges have been made to the legal status of ballot access and political party qualification in the State of Montana.
In 2015 the Montana Legislature passed HB454 that clarified political party process in Montana by amending 13-10-201, 13-10-211, 13-38-201, AND 13-38-202 sections of Montana law. The new law provided for local control of political party and conduct of business.
Members of the Cascade County Central Committee continue to speak up. Even though the Montana GOP rules subcommittee and Chairwoman Debra Lamm ruled in favor of the Cascade County Central Committee the political winds have changed. Now the committee is facing a smack down by Montana GOP leader Debra Lamm who is also under fire for stepping away from the GOP platform.
Mr. Monforton is a former Republican legislator and is a current member of the Gallatin County Republican Central Committee. He is also an attorney and is representing the Cascade County Republican Central Committee.
Mr. Matthew Monforton from Bozeman recently stated: “What it comes down to is, there’s a group of fake Republicans in Cascade County that are really Democrats, but they know they can’t get elected to office as Democrats. Their goals are vastly different from those of the Republican party, ”
Mr. Rick Jore was first elected as a Republican in 1994. Representative Jore served three terms in the Montana House of Representatives before switching to the Constitution Party, in 2002. Mr. Jore ran for the legislature as a Constitution Party candidate and won the seat in 2006. Mr. Jore continually works to restore the Constitutional Republic and free elections including ballot access for the people of Montana.
Mr. Jore took the proposed legislation apart based on his experience and full understanding of the Constitution of Montana.
Mr. Jore stated; “I oppose HB318. It further entrenches the notion that associations called “Political Parties” are created by the legislature and subject to legislative control. That assumption is exactly the opposite of what should be done to address the issues the bill seeks to address.”
The political system in Montana provides for recognition of the right to association, but according to Mr. Jore, the right to disassociate is ignored violating the rights of the people.
“Privatizing political parties would restore and maintain the integrity of those associations by allowing them to maintain their right of association or dissociation” according to Mr. Jore.
The storm that continues to brew dissension among republicans and democrats brings another legislative attempt to intervene in political party control of the election process. The Green Party with litigation still pending in courts here in Montana the 2020 election will likely be called into question.
Executive Action on HB318 will likely be taken by the committee on Friday March 29th. If the bill passes out of committee without any amendments, the bill will go to the full Senate. If the bill passes there It will then go before Governor Bullock for his signature. The citizens are being asked to contact their representatives on the bill.
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