By Laura Lundquist, Missoula Current

A Colstrip Republican who slipped an amendment into an unrelated bill to revive a potential NorthWestern Energy bailout also inserted language into a Department of Justice appropriations bill, requiring the state attorney general to investigate “environmental organizations” in the state.

Under the measure by Sen. Duane Ankey, the attorney general would receive $250,000 to spend on any investigation, which includes accessing the groups’ memberships, funding, spending and political speech or lobbying retroactive to 2011.

This applies to all environmental nonprofit groups in Montana, from a local Audubon chapter objecting to moving a wetland to larger groups like the Montana Environmental Information Center, which has opposed several NorthWestern Energy actions.

It goes hand-in-hand with SB 278, which requires any nonprofit organization that challenges a government action in court to provide its financial information and names of all its members paying more than $50 because it’s “not a charitable purpose.”

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