25 January 2010

Campaign Finance in West Virginia

The Associated Press reports that some legislators who support campaign finance rules remain undeterred by last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the topic.

"Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler thinks the court’s 5-4 decision may even bolster West Virginia’s efforts to secure greater disclosure from individuals and groups that bankroll election advertising," AP reports.

Contrasting that view, "
critics who have challenged (Kessler's) recent state legislation in court, so far successfully, believe it strengthens their hand," the article said.

The ruling overturned a federal law "
that barred corporations and unions from spending money directly from their treasuries on certain ads that advocate electing or defeating candidates for president or Congress," AP explains.

It would appear to do the same for similar statutes in West Virginia and 23 other states. It also reinforces a federal trial court judge's order that blocked enforcement of West Virginia's attempt "
to forbid express advocacy by corporations," as one expert told AP.

But the justices left in place a legal provision requiring anyone spending money on political ads to disclose the names of contributors," the article said. Campaign finance advocates consider that part of the ruling its "silver lining."

“They could have done it in a way that could have made corporate spending totally anonymous,”
Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, a lawyer for Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, told AP. “Disclosure just got new life breathed into it.”

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