Austin, TX Campaign Contribution Blackout Period Ruled Unconstitutional - State and Federal Communications

July 21, 2016  •  

Austin, TX Campaign Contribution Blackout Period Ruled Unconstitutional

AustinOn July 20, a federal court ruled the city of Austin’s campaign contribution blackout period unconstitutional. The blackout period allowed officeholders, candidates, and their respective committees to only accept campaign contributions during the last 180 days before an election or recall election. In Zimmerman v. City of Austin, Texas, the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, concluded the law was unconstitutional under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

In addition, the court found an Austin City Charter provision designating a 90-day requirement for campaign account terminations to be unconstitutional.

District Court Judge Lee Yeakel did uphold the city’s contribution limits for mayoral and city council candidates, finding the limit a constitutional regulation of protected First Amendment activity. The ruling also found City Councilman Don Zimmerman, who originally brought the lawsuit last summer, did not have standing to challenge the aggregate limits of the total contributions a candidate can accept from sources other than natural persons eligible to vote in a postal zip code completely or partially within the Austin city limits.

Photo of Austin, Texas by Eric A. Ellison on Wikimedia Commons.

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