Examining the Unconstitutionality of Montana’s Disclosure Laws

As political campaigns have become more expensive and sophisticated, Congress has increasingly regulated them, yet the Supreme Court has declared many aspects of that regulation unconstitutional. Recently, in Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of East Helena, Inc. v. Unsworth, the Ninth Circuit continued this deregulatory trend by holding that Montana’s election contribution disclosure requirements were unconstitutional as applied to de minimis campaign expenditures. Though the bureaucratic disclosure requirements of the regulation at issue may chill speech, an effect that the court correctly recognized, another feature of the regulation may chill speech even more: its third-party enforcement mechanism. Because the regulation allows third parties to bring complaints of campaign rule breaking, enforcement against minor parties may spring from questionable motives, result in disproportionate burdens, and ultimately militate against the public interest. Thus, whether using the information interest regulation rationale as a pretext for harassment or for mere democracy, such third-party enforcement of campaign disclosure requirements is problematic. This enforcement is especially troublesome given such laws’ disproportionate impact on minor players. Policymakers should recognize this issue when crafting disclosure laws, perhaps by raising the floor for disclosure of contributions when disclosure is urged by a third-party complainant.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, Disclosure, Disclosure, Montana

Campaign Finance Disclosure and the Legislative Process

This article analyzes an underappreciated and oft-overlooked method of campaign finance regulation: the use of reporting and disclosure requirements. Although disclosure has long been overshadowed by more prominent forms of campaign finance regulation, disclosure requirements have recently begun to receive new attention as the Supreme Court has signaled an increasingly skeptical attitude toward direct restrictions on the use of campaign funds. This Article demonstrates that both sides of the campaign finance debate have failed to recognize the full range of possible disclosure schemes, and it argues that a particular set of disclosure requirements can have a much more dramatic effect on the legislative process than has previously been recognized. Applying these insights, the Article shows that a carefully crafted disclosure scheme can offer an effective solution to the problem of quid pro quo corruption (i.e., political bribery) and can overcome serious constitutional concerns about retaliation against those who support unpopular views, while at the same time providing public officials with more detailed information about the needs and preferences of the citizens they represent.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, Disclosure, Jurisprudence & Litigation, Disclosure, Jurisprudence & Litigation

Mandatory Disclosure for Ballot-Initiative Campaigns

The most common approach to disclosure in American politics is simply and aptly described as “more is better.” Disclosure is often championed as a low-cost means of combating the allegedly corrosive effects of money in politics by providing information to the public about the source of funding and expenditures made by groups advocating for the […]

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure State, External Relations Sub-Pages, Research, ballot initiatives, campaign finance reform, Dick Carpenter, Disclosure, institute for justice, polling, Disclosure, Disclosure, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington

Campaign Finance Red Tape: Strangling Free Speech & Political Debate

Raymond J

Twenty-four states provide citizens the ability to make laws directly through ballot measures. However, these states also strictly restrict the First Amendment rights of citizens to speak out about these ballot measures. As such, various disclosure requirements result in complex registration and reporting requirements that are difficult for even the most highly educated citizens to decipher. In an effort to prove this, the author used an innovative experiment, where a sample of 255 citizens was asked to complete actual disclosure forms. Unsurprisingly, not one person completed the forms correctly. Using these findings, the author argues that these disclosure laws are both unnecessary and an obstacle to the free speech guaranteed to all.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Expenditure, First Amendment, Independent Speech, Issue Advocacy, Research, campaign contributions, Contribution, Contribution Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Expenditure, California, Colorado, Missouri

H.R. 2093

Text of H.R. 2093, the grassroots lobbying disclosure proposal introduced by former Representative Marty Meehan (D-MA) in the 110th Congress.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Lobbying, Research, lobbying, lobbyist, Disclosure, Lobbying, Disclosure, Lobbying

Disclosure Costs: Unintended Consequences of Campaign Finance Reform

Raymond J

A prominent feature of campaign finance regulation is mandatory disclosure of contributions and the personal information of contributors. This regulation is in effect for both candidate elections and ballot issue elections. Although disclosure is heralded by its proponents as a necessary measure to prevent corruption, in actuality it generates privacy concerns for individuals wishing to express their First Amendment rights. By means of a six state public opinion survey, the authors highlight the widespread lack of public awareness regarding the real effects of disclosure and the resultant opinions of these citizens who realize what disclosure really means for their own privacy. To remedy this problem, the authors present a voluntary disclosure system.

Filed Under: Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Ohio, Washington

Campaign Finance Laws and Political Efficacy: Evidence from the States

The decline of political efficacy and trust in the United States is often linked to the rise of money in politics. Both the courts and reform advocates justify restrictions on campaign donations and spending as necessary for the improvement of links between the government and the governed.

Filed Under: Contribution Limits, Contribution Limits, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure, Disclosure, Research, Contribution limits, Disclosure, milyo, primo, Contribution Limits, Disclosure, Contributions & Limits, Disclosure