Observer: Supreme Court Leaves Intact New Delaware Law That Expands Disclosure (In the News)

Jeff Brindle

On June 28, 2016, the High Court refused to hear an appeal in Delaware Strong Families v. Matthew Denn, Attorney General of Delaware.

In denying certiorari, the tribunal let stand a ruling by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which upheld Delaware’s disclosure of “third party advertisements.”

Delaware’s Election Disclosure Act requires any non-candidate or political party organization to file a “third party advertisement” report if more than $500 is spent on electioneering communications…

One highly unusual aspect of the case is that it applied the disclosure requirements to a 501(c)3 group, which is considered a charity under IRS law. In the past, such groups have avoided disclosure rules.

The appeals judges stated: “…we conclude that it is the conduct of the organization, rather than an organization’s status with the Internal Revenue Service, that determines whether it makes communications subject to the (Delaware) Act.”

Although US Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito would have granted certiorari, the majority of justices agreed with the Appeals Court’s ruling in favor of disclosure, even in the case of a voter guide.

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