WI Elections Authorities reach settlement in lawsuit over disclosure rules

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August 10, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

MADISON, Wisconsin: The Government Accountability Board reached a settlement between the Wisconsin Club for Growth and One Wisconsin Now over a lawsuit involving new disclosure rules on issue advocacy.[1]

In a written statement, the Board acknowledged an agreement was reached in the Western District of Wisconsin federal court to settle the case.[1] The terms of the settlement called for the Board to not enforce the second sentence of the issue ad rule[1]. The second sentence would have required organizations and individuals engaged in issue advocacy to register with the Board 60 days before the general election and 30 days before the primary. This would be in effect for any group or individual planning to spend $25 or more.[1]

Mike Wittenwyler, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, stated: "the Government Accountability Board does not have the ability to regulate issue advocacy communications under Wisconsin's campaign finance laws." Wittenwyler also said: "with today's stipulation, the state finally has recognized its own limitations in regulating any speech that is not express advocacy or its functional equivalent."[2]

The settlement comes a day after Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen issued a formal opinion stating how the state's campaign finance laws are affected by the Citizens United ruling.[3] The settlement must be approved by Judge William Conley on August 11, 2010.[4]

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