Jeff Mangan, a business owner from Great Falls, took over as Commissioner of Political Practices on Monday. He will serve a six-year term, after the state Senate confirmed him in a 48-1 vote last month.
He previously served as a Democrat in the state House and Senate from 1999 to 2006.
Mangan will now be tasked with enforcing Montana’s campaign finance laws and ethics regulations. He said he is committed to making sure that all spending in state elections is open and transparent.
“I think money is here to stay,” he said. “That’s the reason this office is so important.”
Mangan comes into the office at a time when it has faced heavy criticism. Some Republicans accused the previous commissioner, Jonathan Motl, of being biased against Republicans in his campaign enforcement decisions. During this year’s legislative session, a bill that would have eliminated the commissioner’s office passed the House before dying in the Senate.
Motl denied any bias in his rulings, noting that many of his enforcement decisions came in complaints filed by Republicans against other Republicans.
Mangan says he believes the office has treated all cases fairly, and he wants to continue that work. However, he said he will run the office with a different style from Motl. He hopes his appointment will help reduce some of the controversy that has surrounded the Commissioner of Political Practices.
“I think there are more things we can do to increase transparency, to increase accessibility from folks, to ensure that dark money remains out of Montana and that we have as much light on the folks that are financing campaigns and candidates as possible,” said Mangan.