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Senate Resolution 49, sponsored by Sen. Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, passed the Senate on a 47-3 vote Tuesday. The passage of the resolution confirms the appointment of Chris Gallus, Gov. Greg Gianforte’s pick to lead the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices office, which enforces state campaign finance law and investigates related complaints.

Gallus, a longtime attorney and lobbyist for the Montana Chamber of Commerce and several conservative-aligned causes — some of which have appeared before the commissioner’s office — replaces Jeff Mangan, who resigned late last year

Cuffe applauded Gallus for weathering questions in the Senate State Administration Committee last week related to how he would handle COPP complaints related to his past clients — Gallus has said he’ll recuse himself where appropriate.

“By golly, Chris Gallus stood up there and answered those questions as straight as I could have imagined,” Cuffe said. 

Three lawmakers, all Democrats, voted against Gallus’ confirmation: Sens. Willis Curdy of Missoula, Jen Gross of Billings and Susan Webber of Browning. After the hearing, Gallus expressed gratitude for the chamber’s vote of confidence, though he jokingly bemoaned the fact that he had received three times the opposition as his predecessor — Mangan’s 2017 confirmation received only one no vote, from then-Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls. 

“Even those folks — I had talked to one of them — they came up and told me before the floor vote that they just couldn’t get there on the recusal issue, is what she said,” Gallus said after the vote. “And that’s fine, those things are gonna happen.”

He said he looks forward to doing “what needs to be done” in the commissioner’s office: “apply the facts to the law that the Legislature creates and reach decisions that way, because that’s what we’re tasked to do.” 

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Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Raised in Arizona, Arren is no stranger to the issues impacting Western states, having a keen interest in the politics of land, transportation and housing. Prior to moving to Montana, Arren was a statehouse reporter for the Arizona Capitol Times and covered agricultural and trade policy for Politico in Washington, D.C. In Montana, he has carved out a niche in shoe-leather heavy muckraking based on public documents and deep sourcing that keeps elected officials uncomfortable and the public better informed.