Speaker G. Mark Mickelson is proposing a second ballot initiative, this one to ban out-of-state financing of campaigns for and against ballot measures. Just like his colleague Rep. Spencer Gosch’s failed House Bill 1074, which tried to cap out-of-state contributions to ballot question committees, Speaker Mickelson’s proposal is unconstitutional.
Legislative Research Council Director Jason Hancock warns Speaker Mickelson of this likely unconstitutionality in his review of Mickelson’s measure:
The Supreme Court of the United States has not directly addressed the issue of limits or prohibitions on out-of-state contributions to ballot question committees. Please be advised, however, that closely related rulings by the court about contribution limits to ballot question committees indicate the prohibition in this draft may be subject to constitutional scrutiny. Political contribution limits are generally upheld by the court for “‘the prevention of corruption and the appearance of corruption.”‘ See Nixon v. Shrink Missouri Government PAC, 528 U.5.377,388 (2000), quoting Buckley v. Valeo, 425 U.S. 1,25 (I976t.. contribution limits to ballot question committees, however, have been viewed by the court as a restraint on the rights of association and free speech. see Citizens Against Rent Control v. City of Berkeley, 454 U.S. 290,300 (1981) [Jason Hancock, LRC, letter to Speaker G. Mark Mickelson, 2017.06.04].
Ben Lee, state director of Americans for Prosperity, said aiming to outlaw businesses or groups is the wrong approach when many entities span across geographic borders. The former director of the campaign to defeat Initiated Measure 22 said the measure could profoundly limit individuals’ free political speech.
“Our state had some goofy things happen in 2016, but silencing citizens’ voices as a response is a step in the wrong direction,” Lee said [Dana Ferguson, “Lawmaker Looks to Ban Out-of-State Money at the Ballot,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2017.06.20].
Aaaarrgghh—G. Mark! Don’t go forcing me to agree with Ben Lee!
Alas, for the moment, on this point, I agree with Ben Lee. Mickelson’s proposed initiative is a step in an unconstitutional direction. Mickelson gave IM22 sponsors grief for pushing what LRC warned might be unconstitutional; if Mickelson is consistent, he will heed the advice of LRC and even his AFP pals and back off this ban on contributions to ballot measures by Minnesotans and other strangers.