Lawsuit questions Florida's small group campaign disclosure requirements

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August 11, 2011

By Bailey Ludlam

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Late last month, on July 28, 2011 Federal Judge Robert Hinkle heard arguments on a campaign disclosure case related to 2010's Florida Comprehensive Land Use Plans, Amendment 4. Specifically the case will decide whether small groups of citizens that get together to campaign for or against a measure must submit campaign disclosure forms.[1]

Specifically, the case refers to a group of four Sarasota residents that joined in donating and raising funds in favor of Amendment 4. However, according to reports, the group did not believe it was necessary to form a political action committee and submit campaign disclosure forms.[2]

According to state law, any group of two or more people that wants to spend $500 or more on a campaign must file campaign finance reports.[1]

The lawsuit was filed by a group of Sarasota and Charlotte County residents - Andrew Worley, Pat Wayman, John Scolaro and Robin Stublen - and is represented by Paul Sherman, an Institute for Justice attorney.[2]

Sherman argues that the state law for small groups is burdensome. "If they want to speak out on an issue they face a choice -- either speak out as a heavily regulated (political action committee) or not at all. That choice is unconstitutional," he said.[1]

In defending the state, Florida Department of State assistant general counsel Ashley Davis said that it is in the "public’s interest to know who is attempting to influence elections." Additionally, Davis notes that the requirements are minimal and do not impose limitations on the amount of money that can be raised.[1]

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