The Institute for Free Speech (formerly the Center for Competitive Politics), along with New York law firm Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP, represents the plaintiffs in the case, which include some of New York’s most prominent public relations firms of all ideological persuasions and sizes: The November Team, Inc., Anat Gerstein Inc., BerlinRosen Public Affairs, Ltd., Risa Heller Communications LLC, and Mercury LLC. The filings in the case include sworn declarations from three leading public relations trade associations: the Public Relations Society of America, PR Council, and Arthur W. Page Society.
As the opening brief clearly states, “[This complaint] raises the simple question whether a state agency can, consistent with the First Amendment, declare that private communications with the press constitute ‘lobbying,’ and then mandate persons who so communicate to submit to a burdensome regulatory regime that exposes them to criminal prosecution or fines for non-compliance. The answer, emphatically, is ‘no.'”
The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Our Press Release on the case is available here.
Update: This case has been withdrawn without prejudice, because the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics has begun work to revise the challenged rule. If the final rule provides insufficient First Amendment protections for November Team, et. al., the case may be reinstated, and IFS and its allies will continue to represent their clients in court.
Second Circuit Court of Appeals
- Dismissal without Prejudice (May 16, 2017)
District Court for the Southern District of New York
- Opinion and Order (U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York) (January 11, 2017)
- Sur-Reply in further Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction and in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (September 30, 2016)
- Reply Memorandum in Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (September 15, 2016)
- Joint Status Report and Order (August 16, 2016)
- Reply in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and in Opposition to Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (June 15, 2016)
- Complaint with Exhibit A (U.S. District Court, Souther District of New York) (March 8, 2016)
- Plaintiffs’ Opening Brief in Support of Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction (March 8, 2016)
- Declaration of Andrew G. Celli, Jr. in Support of Plaintiffs’ Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction (March 8, 2016)
- Exhibit 1 — JCOPE Advisory Opinion No. 16-01
- Exhibit 2 — July 10, 2015 Comments on Proposed Advisory Opinion
- Exhibit 3 — December 1, 2015 Comments on Proposed Advisory Opinion
- Exhibit 4 — Video of JCOPE Meeting on 1/26/2016 (Blank exhibit online, a CD was submitted to the Court)
- Exhibit 5 — Declaration of The November Team, Inc.
- Exhibit 6 — Declaration of Anat Gerstein, Inc.
- Exhibit 7 — Declaration of Berlinrosen Public Affairs, Ltd.
- Exhibit 8 — Declaration of Risa Heller Communications, LLC
- Exhibit 9 — Declaration of Mercury LLC
- Exhibit 10 — Declaration of Renee M. Wilson, President of the PR Council
- Exhibit 11 — Declaration of Joseph P. Truncale, CEO of Public Relations Society of America
- Exhibit 12 — Declaration of Roger Bolton, President of the Arthur W. Page Society
- Summons to New York State JCOPE
- Order to Show Cause with Temporary Restraining Order
- Albany Times Union: JCOPE will spend up to $300K to defend its new reporting requirement, by Rick Karlin (May 20, 2016)
- Albany Times Union: An assault on free press, by Editorial Board (March 16, 2016)
- WGRZ: JCOPE looks forward to “day in court”, by Joseph Spector (March 12, 2016)
- New York Law Journal: PR Firms Challenge Reporting Requirement, by Joel Stashenko (March 10, 2016)
- Albany Business Review: PR firms fighting new lobbying rules, by Marie J. French (March 8, 2016)
- Albany Times Union: JCOPE draws rights lawsuit, by Casey Seiler (March 8, 2016)
- New York Daily News: New York’s free-speech impediment, by Editorial Board (March 8, 2016)
- New York Post: Oust the JCOPE bureaucrats for their speech-suppressing power grab, by Editorial Board (March 8, 2016)
- New York Post: PR People fight requirement to disclose communications with reporters, by Carl Campanile (March 8, 2016)
- New York Times: Public Relations Firms Sue New York Ethics Panel Over New Disclosure Rule, by Jesse McKinley (March 8, 2016)
- Politico New York: PR firms file suit over ‘hopelessly vague’ JCOPE lobbying definition, by Bill Mahoney (March 8, 2016)
- PR Week: Industry groups, 5 PR agencies go to court to halt New York State lobbying redefinition, by Frank Washkuch (March 8, 2016)
- The Wall Street Journal: PR Firms File Lawsuit to Block Albany Lobbying Rules, by Erica Orden (March 8, 2016)
- New York Daily News: Foes of free speech: New York State’s ethics commission adds insult to the injury of a terrible lobbying rule,by Editorial Board (February 15, 2016)
- City & State: Albany Again Shows it is Clueless on Corruption, by Joshua Spivak (February 5, 2016)
- New York Daily News: Keep those calls coming: Labeling dealings with editorial boards ‘lobbying’ is nuts, by Editorial Board (January 26, 2016)