As a result of his representation of voters, and leadership of conservative policies during the 2011 and 2013 Legislative Sessions, Art was targeted in 2014 by Democrat Governor Steve Bullock, and his appointed Commissioner of Political Practices who had a long history of representing various liberal Democrat groups. Unlike most states, the Montana COPP has enormous powers to reach back to any campaign activity within 4 years, use his unlimited discretion to file a civil lawsuit, and ask the district court judge to seek fines and even removal from office.
In 2014 the COPP claimed that Art had not reported, or paid "enough" to his vendors for his 2010 Senate campaign mailers. Notably, the COPP only sued Republicans during his tenure. No Democrats have ever been subject to a suit, or attacked over the imputed fair market value of campaign mailers.
Once the market value theory was debunked, the COPP pivoted his case to claim Art failed to report "coordination" from his 2010 campaign with National Right to Work of almost $20,000 of third party campaign mailers. Art refused to settle the discriminatory case or resign his legislative seat. Thereafter, the case went to a 5 day jury trial in the County of the State Capitol, where Art was found liable for failing to report unknown and unsolicited campaign help. The Judge later issued a Judgment for penalties, but refused to remove Art from office.
Notably, there were never any documents showing that Art knew National Right to Work was involved in his campaign, any communications between Art and National Right to Work, or even the mailers National Right to Work supposedly sent during Art's 2010 campaign. The only evidence was the opinion of the COPP (who maintained six roles during the case as Citizen Complainant, Administrative Investigator, Regulator, Lawsuit Plaintiff, Attorney, and Expert).
All of the trial exhibits submitted at trial are linked on this website. In the COPP's bogus persecution, he touted reviewing a "treasure trove" of over 70,000 pages of documents, obtained from the computers of previous Western Tradition Partnership staffers.The linked 73 exhibits that were introduced at trial are the COPP's BEST case against Art. Over half of these trial exhibits are documents never provided to Art during his 2010 campaign, including many documents that involved other races! Almost one-third of the exhibits involve materials that Art reported and paid for. After trial, many people asked the COPP to show the public what was introduced at trial. He refused.
Art is appealing the case, and the Judgment for penalties, to the Montana Supreme Court. This lawsuit was a politically inspired persecution without evidence or legal basis, which discriminated against Art's conservative representation of his constituents and constitutional right to speak and associate freely.