By BOB ANEZ/Associated Press Writer
HELENA - A committee of top legislators Thursday sent Republican Gov. Judy Martz names of four nominees for the job of state political practices commissioner.
All have some partisan political ties.
Martz can appoint from among the four nominees or may choose someone else.
Two others desiring the job have applied directly to the governor. Havre Mayor Bob Rice and Mike Hashisaki of Plains submitted their own names.
All four nominees are women from Helena.
Noreen Lehfeldt is financial coordinator for the Montana Democratic Party. Janice VanRiper, an attorney and consultant, was chief attorney and deputy insurance commissioner for state Auditor John Morrison and his predecessor, Mark O'Keefe, both Democrats. She also was a financial contributor to Democratic Gov.-elect Brian Schweitzer.
Lori Egan Hamm handles notary public applications in the office of Secretary of State Bob Brown and donated to his Republican gubernatorial campaign this year.
Dulcy Hubbert, who has worked in the commissioner's office for 14 years, has no political connections to either party.
The two Democrats on the committee, Senate Minority Leader Jon Tester of Big Sandy and House Minority Leader Dave Wanzenried of Missoula, nominated Lehfeldt and VanRiper. Senate President Bob Keenan of Bigfork and House Speaker Doug Mood of Seeley Lake, both Republicans, suggested Hamm and Hubbert.
Wanzenried praised the nomination of Hubbert, saying she has developed a reputation for being ''meticulous and methodical'' in reviewing campaign finance records submitted to the office.
The commissioner is charged with enforcing campaign finance and ethics laws involving political candidates and officeholders. Incumbent Linda Vaughey, who is paid $50,232 a year, ends her six-year term Dec. 31. The law prevents her from being reappointed.
Vaughey is a Republican from Havre.
Selection of the next commissioner stirred controversy last month when Schweitzer said he planned to make the appointment and Martz insisted the law gives the duty to her before she leaves office Jan. 3.
Legal opinions from Attorney General Mike McGrath and Greg Petesch, the Legislature's chief attorney, concluded the appointment belongs to Martz. That resulted in the legislative leaders scheduling Thursday's meeting to make the nominations required by law.
Martz's choice for the office, expected to be announced next week, will be subject to confirmation by the Senate after it convenes in January. Democrats will control the Senate, 27-23.
Rice said today he was asked to apply for the position but would not say who asked him. His four-year term as mayor will expire Dec. 31, 2005.