Election Funds: Are Electioneering Groups Exercising Free Speech or Using Undisclosed Funds to Unfairly Influence Voters?

Oct. 1, 2009

Inflammatory political ads. Misleading messages. Hidden campaign money. Political campaigning in Florida has taken a harsher, more malicious path in recent years. Many are placing a large share of the blame on so-called 527 groups – a type of tax-exempt electioneering communication organization that can raise and spend unlimited money to influence elections without disclosing basic information like the names of members, their contributions or their affiliations. U.S. District Judge Stephan Mickle created the election law loophole, ruling that a previous Florida campaign law imposed too many requirements on people engaging in political activity. But with the 2010 election season heating up and shadowy attack groups ready to bombard voters, do the rules need a quick fix? Join the Tower Forum for an important debate on the balance between free speech and full disclosure for political groups that pull out all the stops to gain support for their candidates and issues.

SPEAKERS:

Mark Herron, Attorney, Messer, Caparello & Self, P.A., practices ethics in election law in Tallahassee and is the recognized expert in the State of Florida on 527 groups and other electioneering organizations. Mr. Herron represents candidates, political committees, political parties, corporate entities and individuals in matters relating to Florida and Federal elections laws.

Timothy Ryan, Attorney, Ryan & Ryan, LLC, is a former member of the Florida House of Representatives from Dania Beach. While running for State Senate in 2008, he encountered the attack tactics of a 527 electioneering group. His defamation suit against the group is pending.