The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) petitioned the US Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari in Corsi v. Ohio Elections Commission. The petition challenges a recent decision by the Ohio Court of Appeals that upheld the Ohio Elections Commission’s (OEC) interpretation of the major purpose requirement in determining whether or not a group must register as a political action committee (PAC).
Supreme Court rulings over the past four decades have limited the scope of federal committee status to groups that are “under the control of a candidate or the major purpose of which is the nomination or election of a candidate.” Ohio purports to incorporate the major purpose test required by the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo ruling. But the OEC’s interpretation, upheld by the state courts, interpreted the statute to require an organization to register as a PAC even where political advocacy does not comprise a majority—or even a substantial portion—of its activity or expenditures.
In April 2011, the OEC ruled that the Geauga Constitutional Council (GCC), a small, unincorporated entity, was a PAC under Ohio law. Although the commission ruled that the organization’s primary purpose was not to engage in political activity, engaging in politics was one of the organization’s major purposes based on the organization’s mission statement, excerpts from its website, and a single voter guide. Yet, as noted in the petition, “no finding was ever made that these statements and publications comprised a majority, plurality, or even a substantial portion of the Council’s activity or expenditures.”