Win in Farris v. Seabrook

Our friends at the Institute for Justice scored a major victory today, winning legal recognition that limiting contributions to recall efforts is unconstitutional. CCP authored an amicus brief in the case, arguing that the state of Washington’s attempt to paint recall efforts as potentially corrupting was misguided.

The Ninth Circuit agreed, affirming a lower court order allowing the Recall Dale Washam committee to accept contributions larger than the state’s limits, including pro bono legal assistance.

Before the lower court, the Washington attorney general defended the $800 limit on contributions to recall committees. The state relied heavily on information submitted by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, an out-of- state group that assembled a large number of press clippings purporting to show that recall committees were often simply candidate committees in disguise. None of that information addressed Washington’s unique situation.

Predictably, the appeals court was not persuaded. Taking a line of argument similar to CCP’s brief, the court noted Washington’s “elaborate” procedure for recalling officials, which includes legal proceedings and signature gathering in addition to the recall election itself. The court also noted that neither Washington nor the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign had “presented any evidence showing that contributions to recall committees in Washington raise the specter of corruption.”`

Thanks to this decision, Washington’s recall procedures now have real teeth, as another pro-incumbent restriction is struck down. Our hearty congratulations to IJ.

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