Montana: House committee approves bill to require judges recuse due to campaign contributions; using PACs to direct funds to judges could also require recusal

The Montana House State Administration Committee yesterday approved a bill to require judges recuse from cases due to campaign contributions.

Under HB 157 as approved a judge may not sit or act in an action or proceeding when the judge learns by means of a timely motion that the judge has benefitted from or received from a person in the action or proceeding or the person’s employee or attorney an aggregate contribution that exceeds the standard contribution limit. “Aggregate contribution” includes both direct, reportable contributions made to a judicial candidate AND contributions made independently to or through a person or political committee when the contribution can be shown to benefit the election of the judicial candidate.