CLC Update October 19, 2010

  1. Legal Center Files Brief in Ongoing Disclosure Challenge
  2. Victory in 9th Circuit Decision Upholding Washington State Disclosure Laws
  3. Statement by CLC on Departure of OCE Staff Director
  4. President Speaks at Event on Citizens United 


Legal Center Files Brief in Ongoing Disclosure Challenge, Real Truth About Obama v. FEC

 October 18, the Legal Center, along with Democracy 21, filed an amici brief in Real Truth About Obama (RTAO) v. FEC to defend FEC rules that establish when a political organization must register as a federal “political committee” and abide by comprehensive federal disclosure requirements. 

“Given the explosion of anonymous spending and secret donors in the 2010 election cycle, it is vital to protect existing disclosure laws from legal attack,” Legal Center counsel Tara Malloy said.  “The Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that disclosure is critical to ensuring an informed electorate and preventing political corruption.  We hope the district court in this case will follow in this tradition and reject the claims asserted by the Real Truth About Obama.”

The Legal Center highlighted in its amici brief that the case upon remand concerns only disclosure, emphasizing that the Supreme Court has twice upheld, by overwhelming 8-1 votes, laws promoting political transparency in this year alone.  The amici brief further argued that Citizens United had not cast doubt on the rule and policy that remained under challenge, and urged the district court to reaffirm its earlier decision rejecting RTAO’s challenge.

Previously, the Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed amici briefs with the district court on August 14, 2008, and with the Fourth Circuit on October 28, 2008.


Victory in 9th Circuit Decision Upholding Washington State Disclosure Laws

On October 12, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decision in Human Life of Washington v. Brumsickle, rejecting a First Amendment challenge brought by attorney James Bopp, Jr., to Washington state laws (1) requiring groups raising and spending money to influence ballot measure elections to register as political committees and disclose contributions received and expenditures made and (2) requiring others with more limited involvement in elections to disclose independent expenditures on political advertising to influence ballot measure elections. 

“Today’s ruling was a victory for citizens over special interests and shows that campaign finance regulation is still worth fighting for in the courts where, despite some recent setbacks, even the Roberts Court has continued to recognize the vital importance of disclosure to the health of our democracy,” said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Associate Legal Counsel.  “As more and more anonymous special interest money is flooding into the 2010 election cycle, the Ninth Circuit ruling is particularly important in light of the fact that disclosure laws are facing challenges from coast-to-coast.”

The Campaign Legal Center filed an amici brief in the Ninth Circuit supporting the state’s defense of the disclosure laws.  As opponents of reasonable campaign finance laws attack disclosure laws from coast-to-coast, the importance of the Ninth Circuit’s decision can not be understated.


CLC Statement On Departure Of OCE Staff Director Leo Wise

On October 15, Policy Director Meredith McGehee issued a statement on the departure of the Office of Congressional Ethics Staff Director Leo Wise, highlighting his commitment to fair and impartial investigations in Congress.  McGehee credited Wise and the beleaguered OCE with bringing a “new credibility to an ethics process in Congress that had come unhinged and frankly had become a public laughingstock.” 


President Speaks At Event On Citizens United v. FEC

 Legal Center Founding President and General Counsel, Trevor Potter, spoke today at a conference hosted by the Campaign Finance Institute and the University of Virginia’s Miller Center of Public Affairs entitled: “How Will History Judge the Impact of Citizens United v. FEC?”.  The conference, held in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center and broadcast on C-Span, brought together experts, journalists and political scientists to address the impact of this case, the proposed legislative “fix”, and the relationship between democracy and campaign expenditures.