North Fund, a nonprofit registered in Washington, D.C., has given nearly $5 million to New Approach Montana, the political committee that organized the upcoming vote to legalize recreational marijuana in the state on the 2020 ballot.
By Hunter Pauli, Montana Free Press
Anti-marijuana activist and Billings auto dealership owner Steve Zabawa filed a complaint Thursday with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices demanding that a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group called North Fund be required to disclose its donors. North Fund, a nonprofit registered in Washington, D.C., has given nearly $5 million to New Approach Montana, the political committee that organized the upcoming vote to legalize recreational marijuana in the state on the 2020 ballot.
Zabawa’s complaint comes on the heels of Commissioner of Political Practices Jeff Mangan’s own request that North Fund reveal its funders. On September 11, Mangan determined that North Fund is not an “incidental committee”—a category that is not required to disclose its donors—but an “independent committee,” which by state law must be transparent about where its money comes from. Zabawa, who heads a group called Wrong for Montana that opposes the recreational marijuana initiative, makes the same claim in his complaint, calling North Fund “nothing more than a slush fund funneling millions of dollars into Montana and other states attempting to buy ballot issue elections.”
As his own deliberations have been superseded by an official complaint, Mangan could not comment specifically on the issue.
“The question comes down to what’s the primary purpose of this business,” Mangan said of North Fund, “and the complaint just moves it to a whole different level.”
Mangan previously gave North Fund until September 30 to reveal its donors or appeal his decision. On September 30, the group requested an appeal without disclosing its funders. In a letter prepared by two attorneys,