Big Sky Roundup

Montana Senate President wants COPP nominees selected soon, outlines process

By: - November 15, 2022 5:27 pm

The Montana Capitol in Helena (Photo by Darrell Ehrlick of the Daily Montanan).

Senate President Mark Blasdel said he would like to present Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte with nominees for Commissioner of Political Practices before the 2023 Montana Legislature.

Commissioner Jeff Mangan will complete his term on Dec. 30, 2022.

Tuesday in a Legislative Council meeting, Blasdel said he would like the application process to open in the next week or so, ideally to have a new commissioner start as soon as Mangan completes his term.

At the meeting, Blasdel shared the process for submitting nominees to the governor along with commissioner qualifications. He said a committee will evaluate applications to present the governor with at least two but no more than five possible names.

If the nominating committee fails to send the governor names, the governor may appoint anyone who meets the qualifications spelled out in Montana law.

The Commissioner of Political Practices’ website notes the office was created in 1975 “to protect and ensure the integrity of campaigns, politics and government in Montana.”

Blasdel noted the nominating committee is made up of the speaker of the house, president of the senate, and minority leaders of both chambers.

The commissioner will need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Republicans control the House and the Senate and earned a supermajority in last week’s election.

On Oct. 3, Mangan submitted a letter of resignation effective Nov. 6, but he subsequently agreed to serve through the end of the year after receiving numerous requests to complete his term, including one from the governor, according to his resignation letter and a follow up note.

Mangan’s resignation letter noted he had provided the Governor’s Office all guidance it had requested over the past few months as it explored “possible changes to the office and potential candidate qualifications for the upcoming appointment process.”

Montana law allows for officials who serve as commissioner to do so for one six-year term without reappointment.

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Keila Szpaller
Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. In Montana since 1998, she loves hiking in Glacier National Park, wandering the grounds of the Archie Bray and sitting on her front porch with friends. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana. She worked there from 2006 to 2020. As a Missoulian reporter, she was named a co-fellow by the Education Writers Association to report on a series about economic mobility; grantee of the Society of Environmental Journalists for a project on conservation from the U.S. to Africa; and Kiplinger Fellow in Digital Media and Public Affairs Journalism. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune and Missoula Independent, and she earned her master’s in journalism from the University of Montana. She lives in Missoula with her husband, Brock, who is also her favorite chef, and her pup, Henry, who is her favorite adventure companion. She believes she deserves to wear the T-shirt with this saying: “World’s most mediocre runner.”