Publius Was Not a PAC: Reconciling Anonymous Political Speech, the First Amendment, and Campaign Finance Disclosure

36 Pages Posted: 23 May 2013 Last revised: 8 Sep 2014

Benjamin Barr

Wyoming Liberty Group

Stephen R. Klein

Pillar of Law Institute

Date Written: March 1, 2014

Abstract

This article criticizes federal and state campaign finance disclosure laws on First Amendment and political privacy grounds and offers several suggestions for reform respectful of these concerns. Part II of this article offers a history of anonymous speech and suppression of political speech generally. It also illustrates the benefits of anonymous speech to political discourse and participation in the American experiment. Part III is a political speech primer, laying out the basic principles for protecting it constitutionally, and identifying the schism between free speech and campaign finance reform. Part IV discusses the difficulty and expense of complying with campaign finance disclosure. It also discusses efforts to expand campaign finance disclosure laws to reach practically all political speech. Finally, Part V discusses the paradox surrounding legal protection of anonymous speech, and offers various proposals to bolster political privacy.

Keywords: First Amendment, free speech, election law, campaign finance, anonymity, political speech, politics

Suggested Citation

Barr, Benjamin and Klein, Stephen R., Publius Was Not a PAC: Reconciling Anonymous Political Speech, the First Amendment, and Campaign Finance Disclosure (March 1, 2014). 14 Wyo. L. Rev. 253. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2268691 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2268691

Benjamin Barr

Wyoming Liberty Group

1902 Thomes Ave
Suite 201
Cheyenne, WY 82001
United States

Stephen Ralph Klein (Contact Author)

Pillar of Law Institute ( email )

455 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Ste. 359
Washington, DC 20001-2742
United States

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