CREW filed an amicus brief opposing an attempt by the dark money group Wisconsin Family Action to strike down a federal dark money disclosure law that has been on the books since 1980.
Wisconsin Family Action is attempting to undo contributor disclosure for groups influencing federal elections through express electioneering, and in doing so limit the public’s access to and discussion of information that is vital to the health of our democracy. In some cases, this may be the only disclosure obligation imposed on groups that raise and spend hundreds of millions of dollars on elections.
Americans have a right to know who’s trying to spend to influence elections. But increasingly, dark money groups are challenging disclosure laws on the basis that they violate the First Amendment. These challenges are thinly veiled attempts to censor any criticism of them or their donors. But the First Amendment protects criticism and prohibits any government action that is based on a desire to censor disfavored speech.
CREW recently secured a victory in the D.C. Circuit reimposing this reporting requirement after an FEC regulation inadvertently nullified it for thirty years. CREW’s amicus serves as a challenge to WFA’s attempts to limit Americans’ constitutional rights to criticize candidates and moneyed interests that support them.