Montana Ethic Project: Our constitution and right to know


Joey and Libby Early

Former state Sen. Dorothy Eck, a delegate to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention, talks about the importance of the “right to know” provision in the constitution.

This is the 19th chapter of the 32-part video series “The Montana Ethic Project.” This chapter features Dorothy Eck, a delegate to the Montana Constitutional Convention in 1972 and later a state senator for 20 years, speaking on “The Right to Know and the Montana Constitution.” You can watch the whole video below. Here is how it begins:

“My political life in Montana really started in the late ’40s when my husband was hired to teach architecture at the University in Bozeman. We had come from Washington with two small children and absolutely loved Montana. We loved the mountains and the rivers and we liked to fish and go camping and we found that the schools were wonderful and it was a good place to be a part of the university community.

“But as soon as a political campaign started, I found Montana really did have a problem. We were known as the state that wore the Copper Collar. We were controlled by the Anaconda Company.”

Here is another, edited excerpt from Eck’s presentation:

“Additionally we put up with the newspapers, which were mostly all controlled by the Anaconda Company. I can remember in the middle of campaign season the front page of the newspaper would have great pictures and stories about who was running for prom queen, but almost nothing about who was running for the Legislature or other public offices.

“I countered this in a way and joined the League of Women Voters. The League at that time chose political issues to study. Yet it really wasn’t easy getting information on our chosen issues. In those days the bills came running off the mimeograph machine and you would have to pick up a pile of bills, skim through them, see which of them were relevant to the League’s positions, and then decide to act accordingly. We also found that we could show up at committee hearings and members would listen to us. However the Executive Committee meetings of the various committees were all closed, no public allowed. No minutes were taken. There was no idea of who voted for or against the bills you were interested in.

“That was a problem.”

PERC_Logo_MontanaEthicPERC—the Property & Environment Research Center—is a proud sponsor of the Montana Ethic Project. To learn how PERC’s ideas can help us honor one another’s rights to land, water, and wildlife,visit

First week: Project introduction.

Second week: Richard Drake on “Terrorism and the Consolation of History.”

Third week: Mike Gear on “The Value of Athletics.”

Fourth week: Franke Wilmer on “Gender Equity.”

Fifth week: Gordon Brittan on “The Founding Fathers.”

Sixth week: Jim Posewitz on “Montana Sportsmen and the Hunter’s Ethic.”

Seventh week: The Rev. Jessica Crist on “Religion and Politics: Can They Co-exist?”

Eighth week: Chuck Tooley on “The Montana Character.”

Ninth week: Steve Bullock on “Citizens United v. Montana.”

10th week: Carol Williams on “The Imperative for Female Government Participation.”

11th week: Bob Rowe on Technological Development.”

12th weekGeorge Metcalfe on “Economic Development in Africa and Its Relationship to Montana.”

13th weekBruce Smith on “Montana’s Food Economy.”

14th week: Peggy Beltrone on “Montana Wind Energy—Business and Politics.”

15th week: Mark Solon on “Creating an Intermountain West Startup Economy.”

16th week: Bill Yellowtail on “Futuring and Native Leadership.”

17th week: Judy Martz on “Trust in the Lord and He Will Direct Your Path.”

18th week: Bob Brown on “Teddy Roosevelt’s Shadow in Montana’s Big Sky.”

19th week: Gordon Belcourt on “A Montana Native Perspective.”

Next week: Pat Barkey on “The Montana Wage Disparity.”

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