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Proft files suit so his independent expenditure committee can coordinate with campaigns after caps busted

Friday, Jul 20, 2018

* What Proft is seeking to do here is allow his independent expenditure PAC to operate like a regular political action committee after the contribution caps are lifted. Press release…

Today Liberty Principles PAC filed a lawsuit asking a federal district court to immediately suspend Illinois’ campaign contribution limits for ”independent expenditure” groups in state races in which contribution limits have been eliminated for individuals and other groups.

Liberty Principles PAC is an independent expenditure committee run by radio host, political consultant and political activist Dan Proft. Liberty Principles PAC promotes free-market principles and supports candidates for office who share those principles. It works to oppose candidates who do not share free-market principles.

Illinois campaign finance laws limit how much money individuals and organizations may contribute to political candidates. But once certain fundraising thresholds are met in a given race, the campaign contribution limits are eliminated for all types of donors in that race – except “independent expenditure committees,” such as Liberty Principles PAC. Groups such as Liberty Principles PAC remain forbidden from giving to candidates or even talking with candidates about their plans. This means that individuals, corporations, unions and political parties can give unlimited amounts of money to candidates and coordinate with those candidates’ campaigns, but groups such as Liberty Principles PAC cannot.

The lawsuit filed today, Dan Proft, et al. v. Lisa Madigan, et al., asks the court to suspend the campaign contribution limits that restrict independent expenditure committees in races where limits have been eliminated for individuals and all other groups.

“This lawsuit seeks to level the playing field in Illinois elections,” said Patrick Hughes, president of the Liberty Justice Center, which is representing Liberty Principles PAC. “If individuals and every other kind of group are allowed to make unlimited contributions and speak freely with the candidates they support, then independent groups like Liberty Principles PAC should be allowed to do so as well.”

The lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

* From the lawsuit

Injury to Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Dan Proft is a political activist who associates with others for the purpose of communicating with the public about political ideas and candidates for state elective office in Illinois.

Mr. Proft would like to raise unlimited funds from like-minded individuals and organizations and, in turn, spend unlimited amounts on communications (such as television and radio advertisements and literature) supporting and opposing candidates for state elective offices.

Mr. Proft also would like to be able to communicate and coordinate freely with the candidates he supports because he believes that doing so would make his communications (and the candidates’ communications) to the public more effective.

The Code, however, does not allow Mr. Proft to do all these things he wishes to do.

* First Amendment claim

The United States Supreme Court has recognized only one government interest that can justify campaign-finance restrictions: the prevention of actual or apparent quid pro quo corruption. See Wis. Right to Life State PAC v. Barland, 664 F.3d 139, 155 (7th Cir. 2011).

Therefore, in any challenge to campaign-finance restrictions, the government must show, at a minimum, that its restrictions are narrowly tailored to prevent actual or apparent quid pro quo corruption. See McCutcheon v. FEC, 134 S.Ct. 1434, 1441, 1456-57 (2014).

* Equal Protection claim

No corruption-related difference between independent expenditure committees and other donors justifies banning coordinated expenditures by independent expenditure committees while allowing unlimited coordinated expenditures (and contributions) by the others.

From a close pal…

So he wants the right to break caps through independent expenditures, and then say “oh, someone broke the caps so now I can coordinate”

He makes a good point.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:20 pm:

    –Mr. Proft also would like to be able to communicate and coordinate freely with the candidates he supports because he believes that doing so would make his communications (and the candidates’ communications) to the public more effective.–

    LOL, like he doesn’t do that already.

    Proft’s just worried that one of the snakes in his circle might bite him one day. He knows from snakes, better than most.

  2. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:24 pm:

    I would like to see a cap on campaign contributions by source, not recipient. For example, maybe I can give $10,000 per cycle to one campaign or split among several. Ideally, that would include my portion of a contribution through my membership in an organization (union, corporation as customer/employee/executive, etc.). Then again, I would also like to see some sort of limit based on residency, voter registration, or history of recent voting, but I know those would not pass constitutional muster. Really, though, the voice of those who vote and/or live in a district should be the ones that can aid the campaign of a candidate in that district.

  3. - 47th Ward - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:28 pm:

    I’ve never understood how one person can have more free speech/expression rights than another. If campaign contributions are protected speech and can’t be limited, the Court is saying that wealthy Americans have more rights than poor Americans. That is fundamentally wrong.

  4. - Generic Drone - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:36 pm:

    Come one, come all. American governments on sale now. Discount prices guarenteed.

  5. - hisgirlfriday - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:41 pm:

    My first thought was that with this litigation Proft found a new way to grift Republican donors by getting them to pony up money for a fruitless lawsuit, but then I remembered this lawsuit is very likely to bear fruit given the make up of the federal courts as they exist now and how much worse they will get as more Trump appointees are added.

    I would not be surprised to see the right-wing SCOTUS buy into Proft’s nonsense here given how ever since Citizens United it has deemed the rights of organized money superior to those of the rights of people to have free and honest elections.

    These unelected philosopher kings on SCOTUS have repeatedly distorted and abused the First Amendment to give them a fig leaf to cover up the fact that they have overthrown the lawmaking branch of government and state sovereignty when it comes to the regulation of elections.

    Proft v. Madigan is a vehicle for Republicans to try to get SCOTUS to eliminate non-individual campaign contributions entirely.

    Some people weeped for the death of Roe v. Wade when Trump prevailed in the electoral college but I weeped for the enshrinement of Citizens United v. FEC.

  6. - Flat Bed Ford - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:51 pm:

    “The Code, however, does not allow Mr. Proft to do all these things he wishes to do.”

    And THANK GOD for that.

  7. - The Captain - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 12:59 pm:

    Whoever wrote that press release gets a lot of the law wrong, I’m not saying the lawsuit is necessarily wrong, just the press release.

    Here’s the thing though, there’s already a perfectly legal way to accomplish what Proft is trying to do here. His independent expenditure committee can’t legally give directly to any other candidate committee, party committee or PAC not even for candidate committees in races where the caps have been blown (this is what the lawsuit seeks to overturn) however it can return the money it raised to its donors and those donors can turn right back around and give that money in unlimited amounts to the candidates who are in races where the caps have been blown. Proft can then coordinate with those candidates either as a volunteer or as a paid consultant to advise and work on those campaigns so long as the Liberty Principles PAC isn’t also still issuing independent expenditures in that race. The lawsuit seems unnecessary.

  8. - Grand Avenue - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 1:46 pm:

    This will probably go all the way up to the Supreme Court in 2020 where Justice Kavanaugh will be the deciding vote in his favor.

  9. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jul 20, 18 @ 2:41 pm:

    Illinois has a relatively strict disclosure regime for independent expenditure groups. If you let coordination happen, you have to keep strict disclosure and more importantly than that, you might as well eliminate caps. Virginia’s state races have no caps and no coordination rules and it really helps keep a lot of the silly stuff (but not all) done by outside groups from infecting candidate campaigns. Less so for the statewide races than the legislative campaigns, which, by their very nature, are more local.

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