Apples and Oranges: Campaign Finance Transparency Laws Should Remain Untouched By The Supreme Court


Should a court case on whether Washington state must disclose the identities of people calling for a referendum affect the kinds of disclosure required under campaign finance law? We say no. The explanation of our answer is the focus of an amicus brief filed before the U.S. Supreme Court by the Sunlight Foundation, the Brennan Center, and the Center for Responsive Politics in Doe v. Reed.

We believe that, regardless of whether the names of people who signed a petition calling for a referendum must be disclosed, the question of money in politics is different from other election regulation issues, and must be treated differently. “Where money is spent to influence the outcome of elections, vigilance is required to ensure that influence-peddling does not corrupt our democracy and that voters are empowered to make informed decisions about how such spending may have influenced their candidates and laws.”

As a matter of procedure, the Court should never reach the question of how transparency and campaign finance laws intersect. But if it does, the Court should conclude “the curtain of privacy that is appropriate to the voting booth should not be drawn to hide the workings of money in politics from public scrutiny and from political accountability.”

Read the brief below.

Doe v Reed Amicus Brief before Supreme Court joined by Sunlight Foundation