Commission Dismisses Complaint Against Montana Tea Party Group

James Madison Center for Free Speech
1 South 6th Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807-3510

Thursday, December 9, 2010
Contact: James Bopp, Jr.
Phone: 812/232-2434; Fax 812/235-3685;

Commission Dismisses Complaint Against Montana Tea Party Group

In 2009, a father and daughter concerned with runaway government spending started a group called Montana Shrugged. Since then, they have been trying to spread the message of small, constitutionally restrained government through rallies, emails, and a public-access TV show. In early October, the group had a complaint filed against it with the Montana Commission of Political Practices. According to the complaint, some of Montana Shrugged’s speech is banned and the group needs to register as a political committee.

Montana Shrugged filed a response with the Commission and on November 22, 2010, the Commission dismissed the complaint. The Commissioner agreed that Montana Shrugged has not violated any laws because it speaks to its membership base and as a legitimate news medium. The dismissal also recognizes that Montana’s laws cannot be applied to small amounts of spending, like those of Montana Shrugged.

Montana Shrugged has also filed suit in federal court challenging these laws. Montana Shrugged is asking the federal court to strike down these speech-stifling laws so that groups like Montana Shrugged do not have to live in constant fear of complaints and investigations for speaking about issues they care about.

James Bopp, Jr., counsel for Montana Shrugged, said “these kinds of investigations are unacceptable. These laws need to be struck down because the First Amendment doesn’t permit groups to be subject to an Inquisition for speaking out about the government.”

The federal case is Montana Shrugged v. Unsworth. Copies of the dismissal and other documents relating to the federal case are available in pdf online at the James Madison Center’s website.

Lead Counsel, James Bopp, Jr,. has a national federal and state election law practice. He is general counsel for the James Madison Center for Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the Federalist Society. He has also successfully argued numerous times before the United States Supreme Court.

Local Counsel, James E. Brown, is a native of Dillon, Montana and is an attorney at Doney, Crowley, Bloomquist, Payne, and Uda, P.C. His practice includes representing clients in cases before the Commissioner of Political Practices and he advocates free speech protection.