Will North Dakota's Measure 1 Stifle or Enhance Political Discourse? Opponents, Supporters Disagree

Grand Forks Herald

One of the more potent scenarios invoked by opponents of North Dakota’s Measure 1 is an ordinary citizen driving to meet with lawmakers in Bismarck having to write down every cent spent on gas, meals and hotels on the trip. 

It’s meant to show the proposed constitutional amendment, aimed at forcing so-called “dark money” groups to reveal who they really work for, is so vague it would ensnare everyone, making free speech that much harder.

Since then, there’s been an increase in independent expenditures by groups that aren’t required to disclose donors, popularly known as “dark money,” according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks money in politics. These groups include nonprofit groups — examples include the National Rifle Association, Planned Parenthood, unions and chambers of commerce — and shell companies. The main purpose of these groups is supposed to be something other than politics — social welfare or networking, for example — though they may actually act in highly political ways. The Campaign Legal Center, which advised the Measure 1 committee, said some states with laws similar to what the committee is trying to achieve here include California and Montana.

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