Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ninth Circuit Issues Amended Opinion Concerning PAC Money in Washington

On January 31, 2011, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a decision and an amended opinion on Washington's election laws as they pertain to financial contributions by PACS for or against ballot measures.
We address the constitutionality of three provisions of Washington election law as applied to the political committees that support and oppose ballot measures. We hold that Washington’s disclosure requirements, Washington Revised Code § 42.17.090 and Washington Administrative Code § 390-16-034, which require these committees to disclose the name and address of contributors giving more than $25, and additionally to disclose the employer and occupation of contributors giving more than $100, survive exacting scrutiny because they are substantially related to the important governmental interest in informing the electorate. We hold that Washington Revised Code § 42.17.105(8), which prohibits a political committee from accepting from any one person contributions exceeding $5,000 within 21 days of a general election, is not closely drawn to achieve the state’s important interest in informing the electorate. Section 42.17.105(8) is therefore unconstitutional as applied to ballot measure committees.
We affirm the judgment of the district court.