On September 30, U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg, a Clinton appointee, ruled that Arizona’s definition of “political committee” is too restrictive. A political committee must file before it carries out any campaign activity, and it must provide the name, address, telephone number, occupation and employer of its chairman and its treasurer, who must be two different individuals. It must list all its banks and other depositories, and its statement must be notarized. Later, it must report all its contributions and expenditures.
The 53-page order explains that the plaintiff in this case, Dina Gaiassini, sent an e-mail in 2011 to some friends who lived in her town of Fountain Hills, advocating that they oppose an upcoming bond measure. One of the e-mails was forwarded to some town officials, who wrote her a letter saying she is breaking the law if she doesn’t register as a political committee. She then filed the lawsuit. The state legislature later amended the law. The amendment appeared to exempt groups from filing as a political committee if they spend less than $250, but the new law is drafted badly and the judge ruled that Gaiassini still has standing to challenge the new law, because it still would have had an effect on her. The opinion says, “The definition of political committee in Arizona Revised Statutes 16-901(19) is overbroad because it sweeps in a substantial amount of protected speech that the State does not have an important interest in regulating.” Thanks to the Center for Competitive Politics for the link.