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Companies applying for state contracts must disclose money they’ve spent on elections

Posted at 9:21 AM, Jun 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-09 11:21:50-04

HELENA – Governor Steve Bullock has taken steps to require companies applying for state government contracts to disclose any money they’ve spent on elections.

Bullock signed an executive order Friday morning at the Montana State Capitol. The order applies to any company seeking a state contract of at least $25,000 for services or $50,000 for goods. Those applicants will be required to reveal any political expenditures if they spent more than $2,500 over the previous two years.

The order would apply to any campaign contributions or election advertising, from the contractor, its parent companies or its subsidiaries. It would also include donations to other organizations that make political expenditures. That is intended to include so-called “dark money” groups, which are not legally required to disclose their donors because of their tax filing status.

“We’re not passing judgment on how these companies are spending or telling them that they can’t spend in our elections,” Bullock said. “We’re simply saying, ‘If you want to do business with the public, disclose what you’re doing to influence our elections.’”

The order says state agencies may not discriminate against any bid because of the company’s political spending.

The governor’s office says about 500 to 600 companies each year will likely be affected by the order.

This is the second time this year that Bullock has used an executive order to put additional requirements on companies seeking state contracts. In January, he ordered those companies to commit to net neutrality principles, like refusing to block or slow down lawful content or services.

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