ACRU

Feds Preparing to Undo ‘Citizens United’ by Forcing Disclosure of Donors to Conservative Groups

Economics - Money

This column by ACRU Policy Board member J. Christian Adams was published October 26, 2015 on PJ Media.

Two words that make foes of the First Amendment go crazy: “Citizens” and “United.”

Citizens United was the Supreme Court case that ruled the First Amendment applies to everyone: unions, individuals, and corporations supporting their interests through free speech. But the Federal Election Commission has started the process to undo the Citizens United —- and only one day remains for Americans to provide comments asking the FEC to respect the First Amendment.

Americans have only until Tuesday, October 27, to submit an electronic comment asking the FEC to stop, and to abandon these efforts to regulate speech. Anyone can submit a comment at this link.

The Federal Election Commission is considering rules which could force non-profit organizations —- such as a pro-life organization —- to disclose the names of donors. The speech-regulating Left has long been in favor of forced donor disclosure, because it facilitates their most fanatical followers unleashing abuse on those donors. See what happened to the owner of the Houston Texans when he supported an effort to block a transgender referendum in Houston.

Harassment of financial donors to conservative causes has become one of the standard tactics of the militant left. Speech regulations issued by the Federal Election Commission are therefore a necessary component of snuffing out financial support for conservative causes through harassment campaigns.

A half-century ago, liberal groups understood and respected this. The landmark case of NAACP vs. Alabama saw the Supreme Court protect the NAACP from having to disclose supporter information because of the harassment campaigns that would follow.

Now, with perfect hypocrisy, the PAC that issued the petition which triggered the FEC to consider rulemaking which would force disclosure of information does not disclose the full name of its leader. On the page detailing who runs Make Your Laws PAC, Inc., the founder, treasurer, and director is listed merely as “Sai”:

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (of which I am counsel) has already submitted comments to the FEC opposing new federal powers over political freedom. Those comments can be found here. If you also oppose more power for Washington bureaucrats to pry private information from groups who speak out, you can add your own comments at this link.

But hurry, Washington stops listening late on Tuesday, October 27.

Here are the comments from the Public Interest Legal Foundation:

[T]his petition is an attempt to force nonprofit advocacy organizations that are not political committees and that do not spend a majority of their time and resources on candidate-related activity to reveal their donors, something they are not required to do by federal law or IRS regulations. In fact, the fundamental rights of association, privacy, and free speech of such organizations and their donors are protected by the First Amendment, as the U.S. Supreme Court held in NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958).

Such mandated disclosure has no purpose other than to try to open up the donors of such organizations to harassment and intimidation for their political and social beliefs in associating with particular membership organizations. The FEC has no statutory authority to mandate such disclosure of organizations that are not political committees.

Washington bureaucrats are skilled at whittling away freedom in ways most Americans don’t notice. Here’s a rare opportunity for them to hear your voice.

Update: “Sai” writes me and says his full name is indeed “Sai,” sort of like Pele or Bansky,