This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.
It’s a legal long shot, but Montana’s attorney general is mounting a brave defense against the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that unleashed super PACs on American democracy.
To their credit, 22 other state attorneys general – including Washington’s Rob McKenna – are backing Steve Bullock’s attempt to protect Montana from the Citizens United ruling.
Montana was once a poster boy for money-corrupted politics; its history shows how vulnerable states are to the unlimited corporate spending the Supreme Court allowed when it overturned key federal campaign finance restrictions in 2010.
More than 100 years ago, Montana politicians were bought, sold and openly traded by mine-owners known as the Copper Kings. The bribery and other corruption were more or less inevitable, given the ease with which a handful of plutocrats could have their way with an agrarian state.
Montana lawmakers finally reined in the power of Anaconda Copper and other corporate barons by enacting the Corrupt Practices Act of 1912, which sharply curtailed how much they could spend electing friendly officeholders.
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