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Minnesota Disclosure Law Intact For Now

Minnesota Disclosure Law Intact For Now

Minnesota U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank ruled that voters have “an interest in knowing who is speaking about a candidate on the eve on an election” and refused to strike down the Minnesota campaign finance law that requires a corporation to disclose when it spends money to support or defeat a candidate.  It was as a result of that law that the Target and Best Buy contributions to the conservative pac MN Forward and its support of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer first came to light.

According to the law, a corporation may donate its own money to an existing independent expenditure committee or fund without providing any information beyond its name and address.  If the business solicits and receives contributions beyond its general treasury revenue, it must disclose the source of the contributions.

Three groups–Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), the Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises challenged the law, arguing that in infringed on their speech rights.  They sought an injunction in hopes of not having to comply with the reporting requirements in the upcoming November 2 election.

But the Court disagreed, holding that it was unlikely they could prove that disclosing their identity in campaign spending would hamper their right to free speech.  To the contrary, said Judge Frank, the law serves “an important government interest” in transparency.  That transparency “assures that the electorate will be able to make informed decisions and properly evaluate the speakers and their messages.”

The state’s attorney general agreed.  In a statement issued in connection with the decision Attorney General Lori Swanson said that “[a]n informed electorate is the cornerstone of our democracy” noting that the decision “lets average voters know who is financing elections in Minnesota.”

In many ways Minnesota could be a model for national election disclosure laws which would go a long way to at least shed some light in the wake of the Citizens United disaster.  The Senate tried to get a similar measure passed this year, but Republicans blocked the measure.

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photo courtesy of Tracy O via Flickr

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24 comments

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4:56AM PDT on Sep 25, 2010

Full disclosure for elitist, xenophobic corporate exposure in elections.

4:44PM PDT on Sep 24, 2010

Even more light should be thrown upon campaign contributions, less we end up with even more behind-the-scenes manipulators of our so-called representatitives.

7:26PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Tranparency is a must in all elections.

6:34PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Wing nutters come from BOTH parties

5:45PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Amazing that the Right Wingers are the ones who want to hide what they support. Really. If they are so ashamed about it, then maybe they should not donate to that person or campaign.

4:43PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Campaign funding should be equally shared by the serious candidates. If the Daddy Warbucks wing nutters want to contribute $mega to their lackey campaigns they should be required additionally to contribute equally to all opponents. Not goodbye to special interests as the elected candidate would be equally beholden to the special interest, but just maybe hello honesty in government!

3:11PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

i cannot understand how the constituency has become so blind and dumbed down. I guess it is the air pollution.

12:38PM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Thank you. That the laws are being perverted is no surprise. I am proud that we have some judges who will stand up for the rights of working people against the forces that are trying to twist laws to their advantage.

11:46AM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Whoa!!! Upholding the law ENHANCES their right to speak. Everyone gets to know who they're talking to. They should be thankful and support it!

10:53AM PDT on Sep 23, 2010

Republicants just hate it when they have to disclose their pimps.

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