Experts weigh in - corporate spenders buying Montana’s right to a clean and healthful environment

Contact Information

Theresa Keaveny, MCV Executive Director, 861.1557, Ben Graybill, Great Falls attorney, MCV Board of Directors, 452.8566

A series of lawsuits in 2010 may mean corporate contributions to candidates for public office in Montana. Experts believe the influx of political money from corporate donors may threaten Montanans’ constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment.

In January 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in “Citizens United,” allowed corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money in federal elections on independent communications. A subsequent October 18th, 2010 district court ruling in Montana reversed a century-old ban on corporate contributions for independent expenditures to help elect candidates for public office in Montana.

Montana Conservation Voters is hosting an informational panel on the topic Saturday, March 12th at 10:45a.m at the Helena College of Technology, 1115 North Roberts Street, Helena, the as part of its 11th annual membership meeting.

"Out-of-state, and possibly out-of-country polluting corporations bought Montana legislative seats in 2010, and the rest of us are paying the price" said Theresa Keaveny, Executive Director of Montana Conservation Voters. "As a result, the radical state legislature is attacking our constitutional right to a clean and healthful environment, clean energy jobs and even our access to rivers to fish.”

The panel includes Montana's Solicitor Anthony Johnstone; Jennifer Hensley, the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices; Ben Graybill, Great Falls attorney and Betsy Scanlin, attorney and former mayor of Red Lodge. They will discuss what Citizens United and recent Montana court cases mean for corporate spending in elections, and how it impacts our clean air, clear water and unparalleled wildlife.

“The ban on corporate money in elections coupled with a strong state constitution and campaign disclosure laws form our bulwark against the corrupting influence of money in politics. ,” said Great Falls attorney Ben Graybill. “Without these safeguards, Montana’s unique quality of life and the landscapes that define us are at risk.”
The panel is open to the public, and is part of Montana Conservation Voters' 2011 Annual Meeting and Celebration, which includes a Friday evening reception and fundraiser at the Shrine Temple in Helena.