Campaign Contribution Limits Under Fire in Montana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 2, 2014

Contact: Ed Erikson, (202) 420-9947 or Ryan O’Donnell, (413) 335-9824

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Campaign Contribution Limits Under Fire in Montana

Legal Advocacy Group Says American Political Equality is at Stake

Free Speech For People, a national non-profit legal advocacy and public education organization, is joining the defense of Montana’s existing campaign contribution limits now under fire from some of the same activists who served as architects of the Supreme Court’s infamous 2010 Citizens United v. FEC decision.

The organization submitted yesterday a “friend of the court” brief to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, arguing that Montana’s campaign contribution limits should be upheld to protect the constitutional promise of political equality for all. The amicus brief is available here: freespeechforpeople.org/lair.

In Lair v. Motl, plaintiffs allege that Montana’s campaign contribution limits are unconstitutionally low and violate the First Amendment. The case comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s recent decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, which struck down longstanding limits on the total amount of money wealthy individuals could contribute to federal candidates in an election cycle. As with the Citizens United ruling which now allows unlimited corporate dollars into our elections, the high court’s McCutcheon decision is unleashing further money into the political process from wealthy interests.

Ron Fein, Legal Director of Free Speech For People, said: “Campaign contribution limits are justified by an interest in ensuring political equality for all, regardless of access to wealth. When political equality is jeopardized, democracy itself is at risk.”

Justice James Nelson, former Justice of the Montana Supreme Courtsaid: “Candidates for political office and elections should not be for sale to the biggest spenders. The Supreme Court has decreed that money equals speech; and contribution limits help to level a playing field tipped in favor of the big spenders by Citizens United.” 

Jeff Milchen, Co-director of the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) said: “Limiting the size of individual ‘gifts’ to candidates’ campaigns is essential for two reasons. First, we need to know office-holders are focused on serving the public interest, even when it conflicts with the desires of some donors. More importantly, citizens should be able to truly compete for elected office based on their ideas, dedication and record — even if they champion ideas not favored by big business and the wealthiest investors.”

David Levine, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of the American Sustainable Business Council said: “All economic activity exists within a marketplace that is itself defined by laws enacted through the democratic process. If the institutions of democracy are not healthy, the structures of our markets cannot be healthy and our economy will suffer.”

In addition to Free Speech For People, co-signatories to the amicus brief include: Justice James Nelson, the American Independent Business Alliance, and the American Sustainable Business Council.

Free Speech For People works to challenge the misuse of corporate power and restore democracy to the people. The organization advances the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United v. FEC, Buckley v. Valeo, and the fabricated doctrine of corporate constitutional rights, and it engages in legal advocacy for a new jurisprudence in defense of our democracy.

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