Yesterday, the Massachusetts General Court released the conference report for campaign finance legislation. You can find the final bill, which will be voted on today, here.
As many of you know, the Supreme Judicial Court struck down the requirement to print disclosure information on printed materials. They did so because it violates the First Amendment right to anonymous speech. This new bill has language that requires, unconstitutionally, disclosure on printed materials once again (emphasis mine).
“SECTION 25. Section 18G of said chapter 55, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the first paragraph the following paragraph:-
An independent expenditure or electioneering communication which is transmitted through paid television, internet advertising or print advertising appearing larger than 15 square inches shall include a written statement at the bottom of the advertisement that contains the words “Top Contributors” and a written statement that lists the 5 persons or entities or, if fewer than 5 persons or entities, all such persons or entities, that made the largest contributions to that entity; provided, however, that only contributions in excess of $5,000 reportable under this chapter during the 12-month period before the date of the advertisement or communication shall be listed. If no such contribution is received by the entity making an independent expenditure or electioneering communication, the advertisement or communication may exclude the statement. The advertisement or communication shall also include a written statement, as specified by the director, at the bottom of the advertisement that directs viewers to the official web address of the office of campaign and political finance. This paragraph shall also apply to advertisements purchased to influence or affect the vote on any question submitted to the voters.”
This is just one of the many unconstitutional restrictions on anonymous free speech in this section. The United States Supreme Court, in McIntyre vs. Ohio Board of Elections affirmed the right to anonymous speech. That ruling was discussed earlier this year on Red Mass Group.
Yesterday the legislature approved a blatantly unconstitutional reinstatement of the abortion clinic buffer zone. Tomorrow the legislature will vote on blatantly unconstitutional gun regulations, no one has yet seen, and today they are voting on blatantly unconstitutional political speech restrictions.
Any Republican that votes for this legislation deserves at the minimum a primary challenge in 2016, and a vigorous sticker campaign in September of 2014. Our rights should be non-negotiable.
Call your representative at 617-722-2000 and let them know what you think, they know what I think.