Smith v. Helzer - Liberty Justice Center

Smith v. Helzer

Smith v. Helzer challenges Ballot Measure 2 anti-privacy election laws

Speech about elections, candidates, and issues lies at the core of the First Amendment’s protection for the marketplace of ideas. Those rights must be protected, but across the country they are continually undermined by new disclosure requirements.

In Nov. 2020, Alaska adopted sweeping election law changes by a slim margin in Ballot Measure 2. The changes go into effect for the 2022 election season and, in addition to changing how Alaskans vote for state offices, require some of the most stringent reporting requirements on political donors in the country.

Any attempt by government to stifle or control such speech is deserves scrutiny. That is why Alaskan donors and political organizations are standing up to stop the Ballot Measure 2 provisions from ahead of statewide elections.

The lawsuit was filed by Doug Smith, an Anchorage resident, other individual Alaska-based donors, and two citizen advocacy organizations, the Alaska Free Market Coalition and Families for the Last Frontier. With the help of attorneys from the national, nonprofit law firm, the Liberty Justice Center, they are suing state officials from the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC).

The lawsuit federal lawsuit challenges three new requirements created by Ballot Measure 2:

  1. The requirement that donors redundantly report donations or face thousands of dollars in fines.
  2. The demands that speakers fill their ads with extensive disclaimers for the entirety of an ad’s run time, converting ads from communications about issues or candidates into an advertisement of a speaker’s contributors.
  3. And, the disclosure of not only donors but the donors of donors—who gave money to someone who in turn gave money to a speaker—demanding comprehensive genealogies of contributions that run far afield from any state interest in protecting the integrity of elections or curtailing corruption.

The Liberty Justice Center fights for Americans’ fundamental constitutional rights and has previously challenged donor disclosure requirements in Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Rhode Island.

Background

Smith v. Helzer was filed April 7, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska.

Briefs

Complaint 04/07/2022

Press Release 04/07/2022

Motion for Preliminary Injunction 04/25/2022

Memo in Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction 04/25/2022

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