Seventh Circuit Urged to Overturn Ruling Which Ignored Precedent to Halt Wisconsin Investigation of Coordinated Spending with Gov. Walker’s Campaign


Judge’s Error-Riddled Ruling Also Ordered Prosecutors to Destroy Evidence
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed an amici brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reverse a district court order that halted an investigation into allegations of illegal coordination between the campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and ostensibly “independent outside groups.” The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa in O’Keefe v. Chisholm additionally ordered prosecutors to destroy evidence gathered in the case tying the Governor and his campaign to outside groups, including Wisconsin Club for Growth. The brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 focuses entirely on the flawed First Amendment argument utilized by the Judge to enjoin the investigation.
“Judge Randa’s ruling completely disregarded longstanding Supreme Court precedent and instead invented a new theory that the First Amendment forbids regulation of any coordinated spending beyond express advocacy. We hope the Seventh Circuit will see fit to rectify this misguided order expeditiously,” said Tara Malloy, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel. “By narrowing the definition of coordination so drastically, Judge Randa’s ruling, if left standing, would allow and in fact encourage circumvention of the contribution limits on a massive scale, giving rise to exactly the type of quid pro quo corruption that the limits are intended to prevent.”
The Legal Center’s brief highlights that the Supreme Court formulated the express advocacy test only to modify the regulation of independent spending, not the regulation of contributions or coordinated spending. The brief also points out that Judge Randa’s holding is in direct conflict with the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell v. FEC, which upheld a federal statute authorizing the regulation of coordinated spending that is not express advocacy—namely, “electioneering communications.”
The Legal Center and Democracy 21 were aided in the filing of the amici brief by Paul Smith of Jenner and Block. To read the brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, click here.