EUREKA, CA; August 27, 2008: Humboldt County is violating First Amendment free speech rights by prohibiting incorporated businesses from donating to local election campaigns if they have any employees or shareholders living outside of the County. So contends a federal lawsuit filed today by attorneys with Pacific Legal Foundation.
"The County’s donation restriction runs the First Amendment through a shredder," said PLF Attorney Damien Schiff. "The Constitution guarantees open and vibrant political debate, with all sides and all points of view allowed into the fray. The County’s ordinance is an outrageous assault on these free speech rights, because it targets a class of employers to be shut out of the political process."
The lawsuit challenges Measure T – the Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Our Rights to Fair Elections and Local Democracy – an ordinance enacted by initiative in June, 2006. If a corporation has any employees or shareholders living outside of the county – even a single worker or stockholder over the county line – Measure T bans the business from donating to campaigns relating to local ballot measures or candidates for local office.
Measure T also violates the Constitution’s Equal Protection guarantees, according to the PLF lawsuit, because it does not impose the same campaign donation limits on unions. "Besides restricting core rights of political expression, Measure T also unconstitutionally discriminates against businesses, because union donations are not restricted," said Damien Schiff. "An incorporated business is silenced, when it comes to campaign contributions, if it has employees or shareholders outside of the county, but unions that have members in other counties are allowed to continue donating to election campaigns in Humboldt County. This double standard violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
A public interest legal organization headquartered in Sacramento, PLF is the nation’s legal leading watchdog for limited government, property rights, and constitutional freedoms. In the Measure T lawsuit, PLF attorneys represent Mercer, Fraser Co., a highway contractor and heavy construction business located in Eureka, and O & M Industries, a commercial and industrial contractor. O & M is located in Arcata.
The lawsuit complaint, along with the text of Measure T, may be found at PLF’s Web site: pacificlegal.org
About Pacific Legal Foundation - Headquartered in Sacramento, PLF pacificlegal.org is the oldest and most successful public interest legal organization that litigates for limited government, property rights, and individual liberty, in courts across the country.
Not just Unions - but the Orgs are completely unfettered.
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Question is will the Mckinleyville School Bond people join in? Hope they do.
AND! the DUHC WINGNUTS RESPOND!
To our friends and supporters:
We received news today that Measure T (Humboldt County Ordinance to Protect Our Right to Fair Elections and Local Democracy), the ballot initiative we helped to pass banning campaign contributions by non-local corporations to local elections here in Humboldt County, has been challenged in federal court. We will be posting links to information about the suit on our homepage at http://duhc.org.
Both Democracy Unlimited and the Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights understood that such a legal challenge could occur when we worked on the Measure T campaign, and we are working together to create a plan of action. Constitutional law expert John Bonifaz, who pledged during the campaign to serve pro bono as special legal counsel to Humboldt's county counsel, has already confirmed his ability to do so.
We sent out this statement to local inquiries earlier today:
"The people of Humboldt County have the right and duty to protect our electoral process. Voters enacted Measure T based on a legitimate concern that corporate influence in elections is undermining the integrity of our elections. It is our community's right to protect itself from threats to our democracy. The idea that a corporation's so called "rights" are more important than those of our community is unjust and illegitimate.
Measure T ensures that owners of corporations will operate as individuals in the political process, just like every other citizen, rather than gaining undue influence through their corporations.
We are not surprised by this action, but we are certainly disappointed that these companies have so little regard for the will of the people of Humboldt County."
Spokesperson, Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights
We'll be keeping everyone updated as we find out more information and further develop a strategic response.
AND WHO IS Humboldt Coalition for Community Rights? HAH!
☛ ER Striking a blow for free speech