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Minnesota Groups Attempt to Halt the State’s Disclosure Law

The fallout from the revelation that Target, Best Buy, and other corporations made independent expenditures on behalf of Minnesota GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer continues, this time in the courts. The Star Tribune reports that, in the wake of the Target scandal, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life and two other groups are seeking a preliminary injunction to block the state’s law requiring periodic reports on corporate spending for or against candidates:

The disclosure law creates unnecessary burdens on companies and forces them to reveal more than needed for accountability, attorney Joseph La Rue told U.S. District Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul.

“We’re saying the entire scheme is unconstitutional,” La Rue said, arguing the disclosure requirements are so burdensome they amount to a ban on free speech.

Target’s spending on behalf of Emmer was only revealed because he is running for governor and spending on the race is therefore subject to the state’s disclosure law, among the strictest in the country. Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, along with Taxpayers League of Minnesota and Coastal Travel Enterprises, are arguing that the Target example, along with the burdensome paperwork entailed in the state law, are enough to chill their organizations’ right to free speech in the state.

The case mirrors a different challenge filed in Maine by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The group spent heavily on a state ballot proposition that repealed a gay marriage law and now is attempting the block the state’s demand that it disclose its donor lists. A federal court ruled last week that, contrary to NOM’s assertions, the state maintained the right to demand disclosure from the organization. It has yet to rule on the specifics of the case involving the release of individual donor information.

Judge Donovan Frank, who is presiding over the Minnesota case, said he would rule before September 20 on the group’s motion seeking an injunction. September 20 is the day before a new round of state disclosure reports on corporate spending are due for filing.

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