Gavel Grab

Reaction Divided on MN Disclosure Ruling

After a federal appeals court let stand a Minnesota campaign finance disclosure law (see Gavel Grab), a lawyer for groups that had sought to block the law said he will recommend they appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, a panel of the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a trial judge’s refusal of requests to suspend the new Minnesota law that requires corporations to disclose their financial support for election-season political advertising.

James Bopp Jr.,  who represented Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and a travel agency in their bid, said he was disappointed with the ruling, according to an Associated Press article.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson took a different stance. “The ruling is good for citizens and shareholders because it says people have a right to know about corporate financing of elections,” she said.

Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, called the ruling a huge victory and said it deals a blow to special interest groups who “can no longer operate in the shadows.”

Tara Malloy, associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, applauded the ruling as good news “for the health of campaign finance law in the post-Citizens United era.” She added about challenges filed to campaign disclosure laws,  “In light of the many pending challenges, we are pleased that the Eighth Circuit has joined the Ninth Circuit and many lower courts in the last year to hold that strong disclosure laws for independent expenditures are constitutional.” The Center is a JAS partner on campaign reform issues.

Bradley Smith of the Center for Competitive Politics criticized the court ruling, saying, “This was an easy case, a routine ground ball to second base.  And the court threw it over the first baseman’s head and into the stands.” He said he hoped it would be straightened out by an en banc panel of the court.

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