Supreme Court Election Mailers Broke Campaign Laws

Montana Commissioner of Political Practices says Stanford University and Dartmouth College researchers broke state laws

By ALISON NOON, Associated Press

HELENA — Montana’s campaign regulator says Stanford University and Dartmouth College researchers broke state laws when they sent mailers about two 2014 state Supreme Court races to more than 100,000 voters.

The postcards sent in October placed Montana’s nonpartisan judicial candidates on an ideological scale from liberal to conservative.

Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl says the mailers amounted to election advocacy, which requires disclosure of spending and contributions.

The two schools disagree with the findings, saying the mailers were informational and not advocacy.

School officials have said the project aimed to study whether additional information about candidates could affect voter turnout. Stanford and Dartmouth have acknowledged the materials were not properly submitted for university approval.

The findings will be reviewed for either prosecution or a negotiated settlement.

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