CCP sends legislative memo on S.B. 43 after Citizens United ruling

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) sent a letter to Wisconsin State Assembly Members analyzing a restrictive campaign finance bill under consideration.

Senate Bill 43, which recently passed the state Senate, would impose contribution limits on advocacy groups that make independent expenditures — television ads, direct mail and other messages to voters not coordinated with state candidates. SB 43 would also impose burdensome disclosure requirements for grassroots groups.

“The purpose of campaign finance disclosure laws are for citizens to monitor their government, not for governments or opposing interest groups to monitor citizens associating to speak out on campaigns or issues,” said CCP Research & Government Relations Director Laura Renz.

The Supreme Court recognized the importance of anonymous free speech and association in NAACP v. Alabama, holding that “it is hardly a novel perception that compelled disclosure of affiliation with groups engaged in advocacy may constitute as effective a restraint on freedom of association as [other] forms of governmental action.”

This bill’s contribution limits are in direct conflict with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court ruled that independent expenditures by advocacy groups, businesses and unions cannot be banned or limited.

“No sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for-profit corporations,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.