At a Glance
CLC has joined a case defending a Wyoming law requiring political groups to disclose their “electioneering communications” in state elections — including the contributors who funded their campaign ads — to protect voters’ right to know which special interests are attempting to influence their votes and enable them to make informed decisions at the polls.Back to top
About this Case
In June 2021, Wyoming Gun Owners (WyGO) filed suit to challenge Wyoming’s recently-enacted disclosure law requiring political groups to disclose their “electioneering communications” in state elections, including the contributors who funded their campaign ads. Wyoming’s law is meant to advance voters’ right to know which outside groups and special interests are attempting to influence their votes and enable voters to make informed decisions when they vote.
WyGO, a long-standing Wyoming gun rights organization, ran ads in the 2020 Wyoming State Senate primaries. After a complaint was filed against WyGO for failing to disclose this advertising, the Wyoming Secretary of State determined that WyGO had violated the disclosure law and fined the organization $500.
WyGO never filed the required report and instead sued in federal district court, challenging the disclosure law as an unconstitutional burden on its First Amendment rights. In particular, WyGO objected to the law’s requirement that groups running electioneering ads disclose their “contributions which relate to . . . electioneering communication[s],” arguing this provision was both overbroad and vague. In March 2022, while upholding other provisions of the law, the district court found that this contributor disclosure requirement did not meet exacting scrutiny and was void-for-vagueness.
The state defendants and WyGO cross-appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In July 2022, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) joined the case to help, defending the constitutionality of Wyoming’s “electioneering communications” disclosure law and urging the reversal of the lower court’s decision striking down important provisions.
What’s at Stake?
Publicizing information about the true sources of money spent to influence voters’ choices is the central purpose of electoral transparency laws, and the lower court’s decision to scale back donor disclosure thwarts this critical objective. As the U.S. Supreme Court has explained in earlier cases, refusal to follow such laws, “ignores the competing First Amendment interests of individual citizens seeking to make informed choices in the political marketplace.”