State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Citizens United (page 1 of 4)

The Sunlight Keeps Shining: The Supreme Court’s Denial of Certiorari Means that Delaware’s Disinfectant Election Disclosure Law Remains

By: Owen Ecker

In the wake of Citizens United v. FEC, Delaware took it upon itself to counteract the perceived “opening of the floodgates” ushered in by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of corporate third party political expenditures.  As the state’s first major alteration in campaign finance laws for over two decades, House Bill 300, established to generate a greater amount of disclosure from third party advertisers, passed both houses of Delaware’s General Assembly by large margins (about 65 percent in the House of Representatives and 100 percent in the Senate) in 2012.  Thereafter, the Governor of Delaware signed the Delaware Elections Disclosure Act (the “Act”) into law, which became effective in 2013.  However, litigation ensued over the Act’s constitutionality, with one lawsuit making its way up to the Supreme Court.

Continue reading

Massachusetts Rules against Ban on Lying in Campaigns

By: David Schlosser

Over the summer of 2015, a Massachusetts law banning lying in campaign ads was struck down by that state’s highest court. This decision mirrors that of an Ohio federal judge last year, a case previously covered on this blog by Sarah Wiley. Like the Ohio law, the Massachusetts law criminalized telling lies about candidates for political office, and was as on the books for several decades before being successfully challenged in court. The lawsuit arose when a Democratic state representative alleged that a right-leaning PAC lied in a campaign brochure. The brochure in question alleged that Rep. Brian Mannal sponsored a bill that would “help convicted sex offenders” because he—as a defense attorney who had represented sex offenders in the past—stood to profit. Mannal maintained that he never provided legal representation to sex offenders. One of the bills in question would make GPS tracking devices optional for sex offenders on parole, rather than mandatory. After filing the bill in 2013, Mannal reported that he received death threats.

Continue reading

Dark Money Influences Wyoming Politics

 

By: Gordon Dobbs

In response to concerns around the country, the Wyoming U.S. Attorney appointed an attorney to monitor complaints of election fraud and voter intimidation on Election Day. This move in Wyoming was largely seen as a precautionary measure. Despite the fact that the state does not require proof of citizenship and allows same-day registration, Wyoming has not endured allegations of election rigging. But as the Republican Secretary of State assured the public that the election would not be rigged in any way, Wyoming dealt with a more substantial concern: the influx of anonymous, out of state money.

Continue reading

Alaskan Mayor In Trouble

By: Eduardo Lopez

The issue of campaign contribution reform has always been a major topic in American politics, but especially in recent years, with the United States Supreme Court striking down limitations on federal campaign donations. Although the Supreme Court of the United States has made a final decision with regard to federal campaign donation limitations, states still possess the power to implement limitations on contributions on the state level.

Continue reading

Wisconsin Senate Passes Campaign Finance, Election Board Overhauls

By Dan Sinclair

In a lengthy session stretching from last Friday night to the early hours of Saturday morning, the Wisconsin Senate voted to approve a pair of bills making significant changes to the state’s campaign finance laws and election oversight. The latter provision entailed an official plan to replace Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB), a nonpartisan elections and ethics board. Republican legislators had made both issues a priority in recent months, with last weekend’s vote coming less than a month after legislators held a hearing to propose sweeping changes.

Continue reading

NY Loophole Allows Individual’s $4.3 Million in Direct Contributions

By: Dan Carroll

Given the controversy surrounding the Supreme Court’s decisions upending federal campaign finance law in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the average voter might be surprised to find out that federal law still prohibits corporations from making direct contributions to candidates for federal office and limits the amount individuals can contribute to a particular campaign. On the other hand, twenty-two states allow but limit direct contributions from corporations to candidates for state office.

Continue reading

HI: Pay-to-Play Law is A-OK in the Aloha State

By: Mary C. Topic

Pay-to-play laws have risen in prominence in recent years, particularly after Citizens United came down. Pay-to-play laws regulate campaign contributions from government contractors, frequently by taking the form of prohibitions on the award of contracts to those who have made campaign contributions. In enacting such statutes, legislatures seek to combat both actual incidences of corruption, as well as the appearance of corruption.

Continue reading

Toeing the Line: FEC, DOJ, and Coordination Between Super PACs and Candidates

By Staff Writer:

Five years ago, the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United v. FEC and Speechnow v. FEC led to the creation of Super PACs, or independent expenditure-only political committees. Super PACs differ from candidate or political party committees in that they cannot contribute directly to candidates; they may only engage in independent spending on advertising, voter outreach, and the like. Furthermore, although Super PACs may support a particular candidacy, they are strictly prohibited from “coordinating” with candidate or political party committees. Continue reading

“War Chests” and Political Spending in Massachusetts: Are Unions and Corporations Similarly Situated?

By Allison Davis

In March of 2015, two family-owned companies headquartered in Massachusetts filed suit in state court challenging certain provisions of Massachusetts’ campaign finance laws. The provisions in question prohibit corporations and corporate PACs from contributing to candidates or political party committees, but permit labor unions and their PACs to directly contribute up to $15,000 per calendar year to candidates or parties. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint (filed as 1A Auto, Inc. v. Sullivan), this law represents a “lopsided ban” that stifles First Amendment-protected speech and associational rights for corporations. Additionally, the plaintiffs allege that the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution by granting unions and their PACs a privilege that is forbidden to their corporate counterparts. Continue reading

Texas is Shining the Light on the Dark Money in State Politics

By Vanessa Rogala

The Lone Star State has decided to shine some of its Texas sun on the dark money used in elections. “Dark money” is a phrase commonly used to describe donations made by undisclosed donors. For the last several years, dark money been a growing concern in federal and state elections. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, spending by political organizations that do not disclose their donors increased from approximately $5.2 million in 2006 to over $300 million in the 2012 election. Some credit this rapid increase in dark money to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which held that the federal government could not limit organizations from spending money to influence the outcome of elections. And, in an 8 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court also held that Congress can compel disclosure of that  money spent on influencing elections, stating, “prompt disclosure of expenditures can provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters.” The Supreme Court’s push for disclosure, however, launched the creation of super PACs and the growing use of disclosure loopholes. Given how quickly dark money has become an influential factor in elections, many states, including Texas, are attempting to address dark money within their borders. Continue reading

Older posts

© 2017 State of Elections

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑