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Ballot measure activists challenge Florida's campaign finance laws

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October 19, 2010

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TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Four Florida activists argue that the state's current campaign finance laws "severely burdens core political speech." State laws require that if two or more people want to spend $500 or more in support or opposition of a ballot measure then a political committee must be formed and registered with the state.

On Monday, October 20 U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle heard the case. The Institute for Justice, which represents the four activists, asked the judge to throw out the finance laws pertaining to ballot measures. Paul Sherman, an institute attorney, argued that the law was unconstitutional in light of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling on January 2010. Sherman argued that the existing laws are "burdensome."[1][2]

The challenge developed after the four activists sought to air radio ads in oppisition to Amendment 4, an amendment that proposes requiring a taxpayer-funded referendum for all changes to local government comprehensive land-use plans. The lawsuit was filed after learning that they had to form a political committee to run the ads.[1]

Assistant Attorney General Jon Glogau, who represented Secretary of State Dawn Roberts, said the Citizen United case did not lift disclosure requirements. During the October 20 hearing, Glogau said, "Your honor, the registration is merely a two-page form that can be filled out in 15 minutes. I just don't see it as being onerous on them at all."[1]

Judge Hinkle questioned the activists challenge. "Isn't this just a little too convenient. If a group of law students got together and wanted to come up with a fictitious case, they couldn't do any better," said Hinkle. He did not announce a ruling date on the case.[3]

The plaintiffs asked for an emergency order to strike the state law before October 26 so they would have time to run their ads.[3]

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