Information provided to a campaign is not and cannot be a campaign donation

Nov. 1, 2017, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement in response to Campaign Legal Center senior director of trial litigation Adav Noti’s statement that “if a campaign solicits or accepts opposition research without paying for it, the value of that research constitutes a solicitation for, or an in-kind contribution to, the campaign”:

“The absurdity of the position taken by the failed opponent of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, Adav Noti, is an incredible leap, contending that information given to a political campaign somehow constitutes an in-kind contribution. By that standard, every FEC report would have to become a bibliography of all information ever received by a campaign on an opposing candidate. Any free mention of an opposing candidate, positive or negative, with real or fictitious information, solicited or accepted to a campaign, in the media or elsewhere, foreign or domestic, would apparently need to be accounted for. That would apply even if the information is never even actually received or if received if it was ever even used. Every reporter who received a tip about a campaign and brought it to another campaign’s attention to get a react might need to be reported to the FEC by the campaign. Subscriptions to third party newsletters providing information on opposing candidates might have to be reported. Use of free third party services such as search engines providing information might have to be reported. All emails received by a campaign from third parties providing information might have to be reported. It is absurd. Under this extreme vision that speech is money, the only people who would not be allowed to get unpaid-for information on opposing candidates from third parties would be political campaigns because it would be practically impossible to account for.

“The fact is, information, which is First Amendment protected speech, has never been treated as a contribution by the FEC that could be prohibited if not properly accounted for or coming from a foreign source, nor should it, because of the burdens it would place on the exercise of constitutionally protected speech.”

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