Who’s watching the watcher?
That’s the question a Helena attorney hopes to pose with a legal brief filed Wednesday against Montana’s chief political regulator, one that accuses Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl of unlawfully dismissing, and failing to publicly disclose, a formal ethics complaint filed against him in December.
Motl — who serves as the chief arbiter of such ethical concerns, as well as administrative complaints raised on the campaign trail — neglected to disclose or avoid conflicts of interest before personally authoring that dismissal, according to the 20-page brief.
The filing, submitted by former Montana Republican Party attorney Jim Brown, asks a Lewis and Clark County District Court judge to reverse Motl’s dismissal and forward the ethics complaint to the Attorney General’s office.
It goes on to argue state law required Motl to recuse himself from considering that complaint, filed by Montana Trappers Association President James Buell, and asks the court to impose sanctions on the first-term commissioner for his “transgressions of public duty.”