Resolution on Political Practices Confirmation Sets Up Partisan Battle in Montana Legislature
While national media covers the heated confirmation battles over Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks in Washington D.C., there’s a fight in Montana over a confirmation process that may not occur. The issue surrounds the office of the Commissioner of Political Practices, currently held by Commissioner Jonathan Motl. In a 7 – 4 vote yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee, passed a resolution by Senator Nels Swandal to force a confirmation hearing for Motl’s position. Swandal explains…
"There was a lawsuit filed trying to extend the term of the current Commissioner, Mr. Motl, from January 1 2017 to June 10, 2019, which is totally in contravention of the Governor's appointment letter and, of course, the Senate's Confirmation, which occurred by a bipartisan vote two years ago," Swandal said.
Swandal argues that decisions made by Motl since January 1, can be challenged by law, and that the extension of Motl’s term runs contrary to the Montana Constitution.
"It's an attempt to contravene the constitutional authority the senate has to confirm a new Commissioner of Political Practices during the current Legislative Session," Swandal said. "The Attorney General actually filed a motion to intervene in this case and they take the same position we're taking in this resolution: that any act by a lower court to extend Mr. Motl's position beyond January 1, 2017 is illegal."
Swandal says he’s disappointed that the resolution passed on a partisan bases and that all legislative members should want the body to retain the constitutionally apportioned power of confirmation. All four votes against the resolution were by democrats.