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Summary: This bill would require certain persons or groups of people to disclose expenditures or contributions relating to political funds and campaigns. This bill excludes persons who make direct campaign contributions of less than $100.
Analysis: This bill would affect groups organized under 26 USC §501(c) (4) & (6) that engage in political activity. This bill exempts labor organizations, which also engage in political activity.
The United States has a long tradition of anonymous political speech, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that forcing organizations to identify their members or donors can violate their constitutional rights where doing so risks subjecting the donors or members to harassment.
In Citizens United v. FEC the Supreme Court held that “political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it (speech) by design or inadvertence”. The threat of criminal or civil penalties can inhibit protected expression just as a direct injunction or restriction.
Furthermore the Supreme Court noted in Buckley v. Valeo that “Compelled disclosure in itself can seriously infringe on privacy of association and belief guaranteed by the first amendment“. Elsewhere it has been noted that the desire to contribute anonymously to a political organization or campaign “may be motivated by fear of economic or official retaliation”. Retaliation may include social ostracism, economic sanctions, harassment, or violence.
Due to the clear expansion of government and infringement of individual liberty posed by this legislation, we oppose CSSB 346.