Judge rules on Richmond soda tax mailers (AGAINST campaign finance transparency)
Source: San Francisco Chronicle
The city of Richmond can't require beverage industry representatives opposing a ballot measure taxing sugary soft drinks to tell voters in their campaign mailers that they receive "major funding from large out-of-city contributors," a federal judge said Friday.
U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer didn't rule on an industry group's argument that Richmond's campaign disclosure ordinance approved in 2002 and updated in June violates freedom of speech, but made it clear that he would strike down the law unless the city changed it.
He issued a temporary restraining order blocking enforcement of the disclosure ordinance for a separate reason: It wasn't drafted clearly enough to inform the opposition group that it was covered and could face criminal prosecution for violations. But even if the city rewrites its law to make it clearer, Breyer said, its key provision - requiring committees to acknowledge major funding came from "out-of-city contributors" in large, bold-faced type on the front page of campaign mailers - is constitutionally flawed.
"That's clearly argumentative," the judge said, likening the language to an admission that outsiders are trying to influence local elections. "You can't require the other side to make your arguments. That interferes with their First Amendment rights."
Yes, Charles Breyer is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's younger brother. Both judges were Clinton nominees to their benches. Disappointing to see a Democrat-nominated judge make an anti-transparency decision.
After all if they are donating money to organizations in states they dont reside in to purchase air time to air these "issue ads" then isnt that interstate trade?
Same thing for the organizations themselves, if their confining their activity to one sole state then then fine if their moving money from one state to the other to purchase air time then is that not trade?