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Judge Orders Out-of-State Group to Cease Political Activity Until Registered With Secretary of State
Posted Date: 6/2/2010
Contact: Pam duPré
(775) 684-5748

(Carson City, NV; June 2, 2010) – A Carson City judge today agreed with Secretary of State Ross Miller who says an out-of-state organization that ran TV ads featuring gubernatorial candidate Brian Sandoval must register as a Political Action Committee (PAC) before conducting any more political activity in the state.

Secretary Miller and the Nevada Attorney General’s office argued that the Virginia-based Alliance for America’s Future paid for advocacy ads and, at the same time, failed to register as a Political Action Committee as required by Nevada law. Secretary Miller, as Chief Elections Officer, is responsible for enforcing transparency laws that are designed to let voters know who is funding campaign messages that are intended to influence the outcome of Nevada elections.

In his order, First Judicial District Court Judge James E. Wilson prohibited the Alliance for America’s Future and individuals associated with the group from engaging in any PAC activity until the group is registered with the Secretary of State.

Last week, Judge Wilson granted Secretary Miller’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order after the Alliance for America’s Future expressly refused to register as a PAC, as other organizations engaged in political activity are required to do in Nevada. The organization claims that the ads do not advocate for or against a candidate and that revealing the identities of its supporters will negatively impact the group’s ability to raise money in the future.

“I have no sympathy for any organization that clearly engages in political activity in our state and at the same time deliberately skirts state law to avoid revealing who’s funding the activity,” Secretary Miller said. “At this critical time just prior to the primary election, the judge has issued a well-reasoned opinion and I applaud this decision and all decisions that reinforce transparency in our election laws.”

Deputy Attorney General Kerry Benson said at today’s hearing that the issue is not one of restricting anyone’s right to free speech, but rather upholding state law that says the public has a right to know who is engaging in political activity.

The order also stated that the challenged Nevada statutes are constitutional and that the Alliance for America’s Future has not provided evidence that disclosing who they are and where their money comes from inhibits their willingness to engage in candidate advocacy.
1st Judicial District Court Order