Hemenway & Barnes Files Amicus Brief with SJC Regarding Campaign Finance Question

March 01, 2018

1A Auto, Inc. and 126 Self Storage, Inc. v. Michael Sullivan, Director, Office of Campaign and Political Finance

On Tuesday, March 6, the Supreme Judicial Court will hear a case brought by two Massachusetts companies seeking to strike down as unconstitutional a state law that bars for-profit companies from donating directly to candidates for office. The companies argue that they are barred from making such donations, but that nonprofit entities – including unions – face no such bar. In fact, under current guidance from the state’s campaign finance regulator (the Office of Campaign and Political Finance), nonprofit entities may donate up to $15,000 to a single candidate.

Pat Moore and Ryan McManus have filed a brief on behalf of Common Cause and Free Speech for People. The brief highlights the Commonwealth’s long history of banning direct corporate contributions, which dates back to 1908, and addresses why that approach is constitutionally sound. It also argues that the different treatment of for-profit companies and nonprofit entities is not a function of state law, but a function of administrative action by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance which should be readdressed promptly. Before any court considers whether Massachusetts campaign finance law is constitutional, it must address whether the law is being applied as it is written. Common Cause and Free Speech for People contend that it is not.

Read the full amicus brief here