Current commissioner Jim Murry’s last day was Wednesday.
Former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer appointed Murry to the post last year after the previous commissioner, Dave Gallik, resigned amid allegations that he used his office for private law practice work.
Murry did not seek confirmation to the post, and so the search for a new commissioner began this legislative session. A job posting went out on April 16.
The commissioner of political practices is responsible for investigating alleged violations of the election laws and, with the county attorneys, for enforcing election and campaign practice and finance laws.
According to the job posting the qualifications for the job include being a citizen of the United States and a resident of Montana and, on the date of appointment, a registered voter in Montana.
A selection committee composed of the Republican House Speaker Mark Blasdel, Republican Senate President Jeff Essmann, Democratic House Minority Leader Chuck Hunter, and Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jon Sesso, will select a pool of candidates to interview at a May 3 meeting from those who applied. The selection committee will pick at least two and not more than five finalists to forward to Gov. Steve Bullock.
Bullock must appoint a successor within 30 days of the vacancy, but he doesn’t have to appoint someone from the list of lawmakers submit to him.
The 11 candidates who have applied for the post include:
- James Ashmore, a business analyst for the state’s Information Systems Security Office at the Department of Administration in Helena.
- Jeffrey Barber, government relations director for the Nature Conservancy’s Montana chapter in Helena.
- Debra Ann Brown, of Winston, the current treasurer for the Montana Republican Party.
- Ellen Bush, of Helena, the former executive director of Court Appointed Special Advocates who most recently served as Secretary for the House Business and Labor Committee in the Legislature.
- Russell Hart, a third-year law student at the University of Montana School of Law in Missoula set to graduate in May. Hart works as a hearings officer for the Missoula Housing Authority.
- Robert Hoffman, of Butte. Hoffman served as an investigator for the commissioner of political practices from 2007-2010 under former commissioner Dennis Unsworth.
- Joel Krautter, second-year law student at the University of Montana School of Law in Missoula.
- Gary Moseman, the former managing editor of the Great Falls Tribune. Moseman retired from the Tribune last year after 30 years at the newspaper.
- Jonathan Motl, a Helena attorney with the firm Morrison, Motl and Sherwood. Motl has represented ballot issue proponents and opponents over the years and has worked on campaign finance laws.
- Daniel Ritter, a real estate agent with Trails West Real Estate in Lakeside. Ritter worked as an amendment coordinator and Sergeant at arms for the Montana Senate.
- Colleen Urquhart-Fillner, a Helena freelance writer and former policy advisor to former Republican Gov. marc Racicot.
The selection committee’s May 3 meeting in Helena is open to the public.