Campaign Legal Center defends Texas’ ban on corporate campaign giving

Campaign cash watchdog files brief saying King Street Patriots stretch Citizens United ruling 'beyond the breaking point'
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Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 5:36 pm

Since the Texas Democratic Party sued the Houston tea party group King Street Patriots last fall, accusing the group of engaging in partisan politics without disclosing its donors, the case has ballooned into an all-out challenge of the constitutionality of Texas’ corporate campaign donation ban.

Wednesday, the nonpartisan, Washington-based Campaign Legal Center weighed in on KSP’s counter-claim in court, saying, more or less, they’re not buying it.

“This is just one case in an aggressive nationwide litigation offensive seeking to invalidate a broad swath of state campaign finance laws in the wake of Citizens United,” said Legal Center Counsel Tara Malloy in a statement. “But Citizen United simply does not support the radical result the King Street Patriots and other anti-reform litigants seek.”

In fact, Indiana lawyer James Bopp, the architect of the Citizens United case that created an opening for new corporate campaign spending in federal elections, is representing KSP in the suit, along with the Plano-based Liberty Institute.

While KSP has said its fund-raising activities consist of little more than passing a cowboy hat around meetings, the group won’t disclose its donors until a Travis County court rules on its complaints that Texas’ corporate campaign giving ban violates the First, Eighth and 14th Amendment.

“In this case, KSP stretches the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Citizens United beyond the breaking point in its challenge to Texas’s restriction on corporate contributions and its political committee disclosure requirements,” Campaign Legal Center lawyers write in the brief.

Read the group’s full brief here. The next hearing on that question is set for November 8 in Austin.

Minutes after the brief was filed with the court Wednesday, KSP issued a timely call for volunteers and donations, under the bold headline, “We are under attack.”

Without mentioning the court brief, KSP founder Catherine Engelbrecht complains of “malicious” attacks from the Texas Democratic Party, Americans United, “and a host of other progressive
groups.”

“We’ve grown accustomed to their insults and misrepresentations, but I wanted you to see how these groups use fear and race baiting to raise money against us—money that will drive further attacks,” Engelbrecht writes, referring to an email the party sent Friday asking for donations to fight a “three-pronged GOP attack” on voting rights.

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