Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules on Coordinated Spending - State and Federal Communications

July 16, 2015  •  

Wisconsin Supreme Court Rules on Coordinated Spending

Seal of the Supreme Court of WisconsinToday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled campaign finance regulations for coordinated expenditures are limited only to expenditures made for “express advocacy and its functional equivalent.” Express advocacy is a communication expressly advocating for the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.

In Wisconsin v. Peterson, the court held the state’s legal definition of political purposes, upon which the campaign finance regulations rely, is unconstitutionally overbroad. Instead of invalidating the entire statute, the court narrowed the definition to expenditures for express advocacy and its functional equivalent, thereby rejecting the argument that in cases where there is not express advocacy the “coordinated expenditures constitute disguised contributions to the candidate or candidate’s campaign committee.”

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