Media Groups File Motion Over GOP Secret Caucus

Media groups alleges the House GOP has a secret meeting in Helena to talk about the upcoming session

By Justin Franz

HELENA — More than 20 media groups have asked a court to hold the Montana House Republican Caucus in contempt for holding an unpublicized meeting in apparent violation of state open meetings law.

Party caucus meetings must be open to the public after courts ruled in the 1990s that caucuses were public bodies and subject to Montana’s right-to-know laws.

The Great Falls Tribune discovered the Nov. 13 meeting being held in the basement of a Helena hotel. The Tribune reported that about 50 lawmakers were discussing the 2015 legislative session.

Republican Sen. Jeff Essmann has said the gathering was not subject to open meetings law because lawmakers weren’t making legislative decisions.

The media groups’ court motion was filed Thursday. It seeks to compel public notice of future caucus meetings.