Campaign Finance

"We figured out a surefire way around the First Amendment"


The Institute for Justice filed a major free speech suit today challenging a Florida campaign finance law that requires grassroots activists to wade through a maze of red tape in order to exercise their First Amendment rights. As IJ explains:

Under Florida law, any time two or more people join together to advocate the passage or defeat of a ballot issue, and spend more than $500, they become a fully regulated political committee.   

As a result, before they can even publish an ad, the group would have to register with the state and comply with a host of regulations the Florida Secretary of State admits are "complex," and the U.S. Supreme Court recently called "burdensome" and "expensive" even for corporations and unions.  This includes appointing a treasurer, opening up a separate bank account, and tracking and reporting every single penny that goes through the organization.  

And for a humorous illustration of the trouble with campaign finance laws, check out this IJ video:

NEXT: Glenn Reynolds, Claire Berlinski, & Margaret Thatcher

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m Barack Obama, and I endorse this message.

  2. Restrictions on YouTube political videos in 3, 2, 1, ….

  3. I’m sure when the shit hits the fan, they’ll play the “best intentions” defense.

    These kind of regulations exist to do one thing: protect the status quo.

  4. Any elected politician that votes against free speech squelching campaign finance laws should have turn in their decoder ring.

  5. In an absolutely shocking revelation, I can’t find a reference to this in a single major Florida newspaper.

    1. me neither, but the Star-Banner ain’t twat used to be…all this cracker knows is the status quo ante in these parts would’ve been more worth preserving, & i speak as a selfish libertard & as a bleedingheart hippyscum…& what anon coward said

  6. They seem to have forgotten there’s a freedom of assembly in the First Amendment too.

    That darn bill of rights must seem like a particularly sadistic game of Whac A Mole to those poor legislators.

  7. This is the preferred strategy of the political class. They won’t opnely deprive the American people of their rights. They’ll just make it so expensive and difficult to exercise our rights until everyone finally just shuts up, puts on a red or blue shirt, pays their taxes, and participates in the Two-Minutes Hate against “Big Business.”

  8. I hope that there enough sensible people in Florida to actually *go after* the people responsible for this. It’s getting to be high time to make politicians and especially bureaucrats pay for their depredations. Blow up the sinecures and fire some asses.

  9. Note that this applies to amendments to the Fl constitution ONLY. This probably was instituted after the “pig” farm amendment a couple of years ago, when a large number of out of state PETA types succeeded in passing a law that put 2 – count ’em – 2 pig farmers out of business. There was widespread fraud and misinformation during the run up to the vote. Post election interviews showed that most people believed that the amendment was some kind of ASPCA regulation applying to all kinds of animals.

  10. At a certain point incumbent politicians who attempt to curtail free speech and/or freedom of assembly are going to court personal violent retribution from an angry electorate – tar and feathers, hanging…cream pies in the face.

  11. “Dammit, Jim!”


  12. Before resorting to violence, organized massive civil disobedience works well, too. See: Selma bus boycott after Rosa Parks.
    If everyone ignores the law, then most if not all get away with it.

  13. Jerry Brown started his career in statewide California elective office by creating just the sort of scheme to dodge the First Amendment discussed in the Camp Politics video. Jerry learned how to be a politician on his the lap of his late millionaire dad, Gov. Edmund G. Brown.

    By the way, when Moonbeam does his Two-Minute Hate on millionaires and talks tough about taking them down, could he please put the gun to his own millionaire head and squeeze the trigger?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.