Too often, campaign finance regulations are regarded as incomprehensible and inapplicable to most people’s daily lives. However, the Institute for Justice recently completed a study concerning the actual effects of “electioneering communications” restrictions on non-profit organizations and grassroots groups, and the results are troublesome to people everywhere who value First Amendment political rights.
By conducting a survey of registered non-profit organizations in Florida — which held the dubious distinction of having the broadest electioneering communications prohibition in the country (a federal district court recently struck down the law as unconstitutional) — the study aims to measure the actual impact of these laws on the day-to-day operations of small organizations.
The results are noteworthy — the reporting and disclosure requirements in these laws would, according to the non-profit survey participants, negatively affect their ability to fundraise (and, by extension, operate), communicate with members about relevant issues and more generally take valuable time away from the core missions of the groups.
The report thoroughly explains the results and is well worth the read, not to mention timely given the Supreme Court’s recent non-decision in the Citizens United case. In fact, the study underscores the broader implications and harm these restrictive and sweeping laws inflict on core political speech.