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First Circuit Reminds Nonprofits That Citizens United Did Not Free Them

Nonprofits believing the Citizens United case freed them to engage in expressly advocating election or defeat of candidates need to be careful.

The First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld both Maine and Rhode Island statutes requiring nonprofit organizations to register as political action committees when engaging in express advocacy about electing or defeating candidates.

The challenger to those two state statutes, the National Organization of Marriage (NOM), is a 501(c)(4) organization.  NOM challenged the Maine and Rhode Island statutes regulating express advocacy about candidates, and requiring registration as political action committees (PAC).

PACs must not only register, but they must report donors and provide certain disclaimers on their communications.

Rick Hasen’s Election Law Blog reports about the NOM cases here. Constitutional Law Prof Blog reports here.

If you’re confused, it’s probably because you think clearly.  Campaign finance laws are often goofy.

This is a good example of the principle that nonprofits need to know what they don’t know, then learn it.

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