Legal Center Filing Urges Michigan to Properly Enforce State Law Disclosure Requirements in Judicial Elections


Today, the Campaign Legal Center filed in support of the State Bar of Michigan’s request that the State properly enforce Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA) disclosure requirements in judicial elections. In comments filed in the proceeding, the Legal Center urged Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to reverse an erroneous 2004 interpretation of MCFA by her predecessor that significantly undermined the State disclosure provisions and led to rapid rise in undisclosed political spending in the state.

“The ruling issued in 2004 misinterpreted Supreme Court decisions and effectively gutted the state’s disclosure provisions by narrowing them beyond effectiveness to disastrous effect in the state, particularly with regard to judicial elections,” said Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel Paul S. Ryan. “The U.S. Supreme Court has been very clear in its decisions, both before and after the 2004 Michigan ruling, that disclosure laws advance the compelling government interest in providing voters with information regarding those spending money to influence voting decisions.”

Michigan campaign finance statutes require disclosure of expenditures for political ads that “support or oppose” candidates in order to capture sham issue ads attacking or supporting candidates and not just those expressly advocating the election or defeat of candidates using phrases like “vote for” and “vote against.” The 2004 interpretation by the Michigan Secretary of State’s office incorrectly advises that only express advocacy could be covered, despite the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McConnell v. FEC ruling that the statutory “support or oppose” standard is constitutionally permissible.

To read the comments filed by the Legal Center, click here.