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Illinois groups suing to overturn New Jersey’s new dark money law

Friday, Sep 27, 2019

* From June

[New Jersey] Governor Phil Murphy today signed into law legislation sponsored by Senator Troy Singleton and Senator Linda Greenstein that will require independent advocacy committees to disclose their donors, bringing greater transparency to organizations that work to influence the political process. The new law will require the so-called “dark money” groups to make public their expenditures and donors.

* From one of the law’s Senate sponsors

None of us expected the opponents of this legislation – some well-intentioned, some not – to just go away quietly. However, I was disappointed and dismayed earlier this month when I read about the groups bringing legal challenges against the law. One group involved in the litigation, the Illinois Opportunity Project, is particularly concerning.

The Illinois Opportunity Project is a “free-market” conservative group out of Chicago, Illinois, who has announced their intent to try to influence public policy here in New Jersey. In Illinois, this group is actively trying to silence the voice of voters through its efforts to have the legislative maps redrawn. It also hasn’t gone unnoticed that they are represented by the Liberty Justice Center, which led the charge in the Janus v. AFSCME decision. This group worked diligently to silence the voice of workers through its legal actions. The Janus decision effectively undermined the organizing rights of workers to create better conditions in their workplace.

Now, the Illinois Opportunity Project wants to undermine New Jersey’s voters. It has turned its focus on our effort to achieve a more open and transparent political process. It is complaining that under New Jersey’s new dark money law they “would be required to register and disclose its donors to the Commissioners and its sponsorship of certain messages.” Well, that’s exactly the point.

But, New Jersey’s dark money law is not this group’s only target. The Illinois Opportunity Project is trying to undo campaign finance laws in Montana that require greater disclosure for businesses seeking state contracts.

The Illinois Opportunity Project “team” includes Dan Proft, Matthew Besler and Pat Hughes. The Liberty Justice Center is a project of the Illinois Policy Institute. Their complaint is here. From their rationale

Illinois Opportunity Project is concerned that compelled disclosure of its members and supporters could lead to substantial personal and economic repercussions for its contributors. Across the country, individual and corporate donors to political candidates and issue causes are being subject to boycotts, harassment, protests, career damage and even death threats for publicly engaging in the public square. Illinois Opportunity Project fears that its members and supporters may also encounter similar reprisals if their donations are made public, while supporters of union and business organizations are protected from the same scrutiny.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:09 pm:

    (Gasp)

    Proft, Besler, Hughes… and IPI folks

    … they want their donors hidden.

    Meh.

    If I was a donor to any of them I’d want my contribution hidden due to the utter embarrassment I gave money to these folks, lol


  2. - Jibba - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:10 pm:

    ==Illinois Opportunity Project is concerned that compelled disclosure of its members and supporters could lead to substantial personal and economic repercussions for its contributors. Across the country, individual and corporate donors to political candidates and issue causes are being subject to boycotts, harassment, protests, career damage and even death threats===

    Speaking anonymously is not a constitutional right. And most of those consequences mentioned are legal, stemming from the constitutional rights of others. The others are already illegal.


  3. - Techie - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:11 pm:

    “Across the country, individual and corporate donors to political candidates and issue causes are being subject to boycotts, harassment, protests, career damage and even death threats for publicly engaging in the public square.”

    If your ideas are so bad as to invite these things, maybe your ideas, not the transparency, is the problem.


  4. - Anon E Moose - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    “Speaking anonymously is not a constitutional right.”

    Actually it is. See Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960). There’s no right to donate anonymously to a political campaign.


  5. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    ===could lead to substantial personal and economic repercussions for its contributors. Across the country, individual and corporate donors to political candidates and issue causes are being subject to boycotts, harassment, protests, career damage…===

    I’m going to stop ya there.

    I’m for unlimited money, to anyone, to any committee, anytime of the year.

    You wanna give cash, out your name to it.

    If it’s freedom of speech, money in politics, then you can freely say whatever you want, but you’re not free from those ramifications.


  6. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:18 pm:

    “are being subject to boycotts, harassment, protests, career damage and even death threats for publicly engaging in the public square”

    These dark money groups have no moral problem in getting a governor to give to them the names and addresses of government workers, so union-busting literature could be sent to their houses. If that’s okay then the donors of these groups should be exposed.


  7. - JB13 - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    – If your ideas are so bad as to invite these things, maybe your ideas, not the transparency, is the problem –

    Yep, that’s the problem. Not the people who make it their mission to threaten others and seek to destroy their livelihoods for daring to disagree on politics. Absolutely right.


  8. - 47th Ward - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:23 pm:

    Don’t hide your light under a bushel.

    Matthew 5:15, Dan Proft 0.


  9. - Techie - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    @JB13

    I don’t condone death threats or destroying someone’s livelihood over political disagreements.

    My point is that I don’t have sympathy for wealthy people who get upset when people protest them donating to terrible causes and candidates.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:29 pm:

    - 47th Ward - has indeed been the “Player of the Day” today.

    Restaurant quality work today. You stepped up huge.

    To the post,

    If people are angry at your donors, why not welcome the open discussion of ideas, why must the ideas not have those willing to own them?

    If you speak politically, you’re gonna offend someone.

    “Republicans buy sneakers too”

    - Michael Jeffery Jordan.


  11. - City Zen - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:34 pm:

    It’s time to Fight Back against dark money.


  12. - Annonin' - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:54 pm:

    BigWordDan and his posse don’t really fear reprisals they fear all the middle of the crank calls deriding their multiple failures and millions of wasted $$$$.


  13. - Doc - Friday, Sep 27, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    If money is speech, then we need to know who is talking.


  14. - IL Watcher - Sunday, Sep 29, 19 @ 10:32 am:

    Tillman is doing the same thing in Montana: https://www.bozemandailychronicle.com/opinions/editorials/montana-must-defend-our-elections/article_0ae0327d-c712-52fd-bb89-c82598d83b1c.html


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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