In the News: Soft Money Hard Law: The Corsi Case: How Large is the Role of “Small” in Campaign Finance Jurisprudence?

By Bob Bauer

Edmund Corsi from Ohio has strong views about politics and political candidates, and he makes them known through a website, and in other ways, in the name of the Geauga Constitutional Council. Corsi was called on to answer to the Ohio Elections Commission for failing to register a “political committee” under Ohio state law. Corsi lost there, and then in two appeals, and the Center for Competitive Politics has petitioned for writ of certiorari, challenging the basis upon which Ohio has applied its definition of a “political committee.” Ohio Rev. Code. Ann. § 3517.01(B)(8).

The CCP is primarily concerned that while Corsi did engage in express advocacy, the State did not measure the extent of it. So on the record established, it could not be said that his communications met the “primary or major purpose” standard of Ohio law. In arguing the cert-worthiness of the case, CCP contends that Ohio has departed from the limits established by Buckley v. Valeo on the authority of the state to subject activity to political committee registration and disclosure requirements. Also of interest is the question of whether this is a case of small-scale political activity that the Court would look for a reason to protect. See Massachusetts Citizens for Life v. Federal Election Commission, 479 U.S. 238 (1986); Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230 (2006); and McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995).

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