Although the Center for Competitive Politics works hard at challenging as many absurd First Amendment violating restrictions as possible, there are many cases with which we are not involved that have the potential to significantly impact First Amendment jurisprudence.
Defendants launched and aggressively pursued a secret criminal investigation targeting every major right-of-center advocacy group in Wisconsin on the view that this kind of “coordination” between a candidate and supporters of his policies is illegal. They also claim the power to restrict speech on public- policy issues based on an advocacy group’s communications with a candidate, whether or not that speech has anything to do with that candidate’s own campaign or election. In short, Defendants claim a carte blanche to target more or less every person or group that has ever participated in Wisconsin political or policy debates, to raid their homes, seize their records and personal effects, subpoena their emails and phone records, and threaten them with prosecution—all things that Defendants actually did in this case—merely for speaking out on the issues.
The lawsuit follows Gessler’s determination that Citizens United film and related promotional materials do not fall within Colorado’s various media exemptions and would be subject to Colorado’s burdensome campaign finance reporting and disclosure requirements. The media exemptions, as enforced, protect the rights of the print media and broadcast facilities while discriminating against the constitutionally protected speech of speakers such as Citizens United. Relying extensively on its landmark win in Citizens United v. FEC, the lawsuit challenges the discriminatory reporting and disclosure regime that applies to electioneering communications and independent expenditures.