The state has agreed to drop new regulations on campaign ads. This after groups from across the political spectrum sued claiming a violation of free speech.
“We’re very pleased with the outcome because it protects first amendment rights, it protects the rights of community based organizations to talk about issues and it doesn’t take away their ability to do that just because of the time of year,” says Scot Ross, Executive Director of One Wisconsin Now, a plaintiff in a suit.
Ross says the rules would’ve categorized groups’ internet dialogue and press releases as political advertising if done 30 days before a primary 60 days before a general election. He says the rules would’ve had a chilling effect for 501-3C groups, who focus on issues and are legally prohibited from endorsement of candidates,”Elected officials shouldn’t have a monopoly on what the public policy debate is.”
Mike McCabe of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign was critical of the lawsuit calling it a baseless attempt to keep the public in the dark about the source of frequently negative election year attacks.
Attorney General JB Van Hollen says, in a statement, the US Supreme Court has upheld that states are allowed to regulate issue advocacy to a certain extent. “If and when they (the legislature) take up that issue, I hope they give due consideration to the fact that the ability to freely engage in public discourse is a cornerstone of our democracy and Constitution.”