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Brown Moves to Block Effort to Conceal Proposition 8 Donors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Contact: Christine Gasparac: (916) 324-5500
San Francisco – Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today filed a brief in federal court opposing a preliminary injunction that would conceal the identities of contributors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.
“Political democracy demands open debate, including prompt disclosure of the identities of campaign donors,” Attorney General Brown said. “Backers of Proposition 8 should not be allowed to carve out a special privilege of anonymity for themselves alone.”
The opposition brief, filed today with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, contends that Proposition 8 supporters do not meet the criteria for the limited exemption to valid campaign disclosure laws, an exemption developed by the Supreme Court to protect the ability of historically persecuted minority parties to engage in political speech. This limited exemption has applied to groups like the Socialist Workers Party in Ohio and the NAACP in Alabama in 1958, which both demonstrated that disclosure would result in significant harm and threaten the viability of their organizations.
By contrast, the supporters of Proposition 8 are a well-financed association of individuals who raised nearly $30 million in support of a ballot measure that received 52.3 percent of the vote. There is no risk that disclosure of donors will harm their ability to organize or otherwise pursue their political views.
Additionally, there is no justification to shield donors from post-election reporting requirements. Rather, these requirements help to prevent kickbacks, laundering, and other improper uses of campaign funds.
Any instances of violence or harassment against donors are deeply regrettable, but California’s civil and criminal justice systems are the appropriate venues to seek relief from potentially illegal conduct.
The bottom line is that the State’s campaign finance disclosure laws result in more speech, not less, and the public’s interest is better served in this case by requiring disclosure from those supporters of Proposition 8 who donated $100 or more.