The UNConstitution State…AGAIN
March 18, 2017
Another Connecticut Democrat wants to see to it that free speech is silenced.
The Yankee Institute for Public Policy reports on March 13th, Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, of Berlin, an employee of the powerful government union AFSCME, and other representatives introduced House Bill 5589, An Act Concerning Campaign Finance Reform.
A second act, House Bill 7211, An Act Concerning Disclosure of Coordinated and Independent Spending in Campaign Finance ,was introduced in the left-wing majority General Assembly.
The Institute reports the proposed legislation “would result in a list of people who have donated to nonprofit groups that support causes in Connecticut.” Liberty and free speech minded critics believe government reporting of private giving “could result in harassment of people across the political spectrum who take controversial positions,” especially those against the bully pulpet of the assembly.
The legislation appears to apply to 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations, which the IRS says must “operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community.”
YIPP Policy Director, Suzanne Bates, told the government administration and elections committee the bill will make political participation tougher for average citizens while big money donors would still have the legal and financial ability to navigate the system.
“Any time you make the campaign finance laws more complex you basically make it harder for regular people to get involved in the process. People who really want to get their money into the system find a way,” Bates told the committee.
There is a possiblity Connecticut could face a fight at the U.S. Supreme Court, which in the past ruled that donor privacy is part of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
The court in a 1958 case, Alabama v. NAACP, decided that advocacy groups cannot be forced to disclose the names of their supporters because it violates freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, both guaranteed by the First Amendment.
In that case, Alabama tried to force the NAACP to reveal its list of members’ names and addresses, claiming the groups was causing harm to the state. The ruling is considered a landmark civil-rights ruling.
Connecticut is trying to do what California did in 2015. Then the state forced nonprofits, including 501(c)(3) organizations to report the names of supporters who donated $5,000 or more to the government.
The case was eventually appealed to the nation’s high court, but it refused to take up the matter, contrary to the court’s past rulings.
The Connecticut connection in this comes from last year’s elections. While it was a presidential election year, there were some local races, including one featuring William Petit, the Cheshire man who’s daughter and wife were killed by two gunman in a 2007 attack.
Labor United, a union-funded PAC, released a controversial television ad attacking Petit for being anti-family. The ad would be pulled and the union’s treasurer was fired from the PAC and resigned from his separate position as the executive director of the left-wing SEIU Connecticut State Council.
Petit would go on to win his race for state representative.