SACRAMENTO, CA: Campaign Finance Reporting Rules Have Resulted in Rampant Harassment of Prop 8 Supporters
Janueay 8, 2009
Acting on behalf of hundreds of supporters of Proposition 8 who have experienced various acts of harassment including death threats at the hands of opponents, the ProtectMarriage.com - Yes on 8 committee today filed a challenge in US federal court to the constitutionality of California's campaign finance laws that compel disclosure of personal information of Prop 8 donors.
"There has been a systematic attempt to intimidate, threaten and harass donors to the Proposition 8 campaign," said Ron Prentice, Chairman of ProtectMarriage.com.
"This harassment is made possible because of California's unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules as applied to ballot measure committees where even donors of as little as $100 must have their names, home addresses and employers listed on public documents. These disclosure rules violate the US constitution in numerous ways. We are standing up for our contributors to ensure that the harassment stops."
The suit notes that groups such as Californians Against Hate (www.californiansagainsthate.com) exist for the primary purpose of identifying and taking action against supporters of Proposition 8. The suit cited numerous examples of threatening and harassing emails, phone calls and postcards suffered by supporters of Proposition 8, including:
* "Burn in hell."
* "Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter."
* "I just wanted to call and let you know what a great picture that was of you and the other Nazi's [sic] in the newspaper....Don't worry though, we have plans for you and your friends."
The lawsuit also detailed acts of vandalism, property destruction, distribution of harassing flyers, and threats to ruin businesses employing donors to the Prop 8 campaign.
"The United States Supreme Court has ruled that campaign disclosure laws can be invalidated if it subjects supporters to threats, harassment or reprisals from government, or private parties," Prentice said. "That is exactly what has happened with supporters of Proposition 8."
The suit alleges that California's Political Reform Act is unconstitutional on numerous grounds:
* The right of contributors to exercise their First Amendment rights free from threats, harassment and reprisals outweighs the state's interest in compelled disclosure;
* The Act's requirements that committees report all contributors of $100 or more is unconstitutionally overbroad in violation of the First Amendment because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
* The Act's requirement for ballot measure committees to file any reports after the election is unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it is not narrowly tailored to serve a compelling government interest.
* The Act is unconstitutional under the First Amendment because it does not contain a mechanism for purging all reports related to a ballot measure after the election has occurred.
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