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FEC v. HALL-TYNER ELECTION CAMPAIGN COMM.

September 22, 1981

FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, Plaintiff,
v.
HALL-TYNER ELECTION CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE, et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GAGLIARDI

The Federal Election Commission (the "FEC") commenced this action for a civil penalty and declaratory and injunctive relief against the Hall-Tyner Election Campaign Committee (the "Committee") and the treasurer of the Committee, Frances Bordofsky. The action is based upon alleged violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the "FECA"), 2 U.S.C. § 431 et seq., *fn1" during the 1976 presidential election campaign. Defendants admit to engaging in the conduct constituting the alleged violations, but assert that the relevant provisions of the FECA as applied to defendants deprive the supporters of the Committee of their First Amendment rights to privacy of association and belief. Both plaintiff and defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Rule 56, Fed.R.Civ.P. For the reasons set forth below, the court has concluded that defendants' motion should be granted and the complaint dismissed. *fn2"

Background

 Gus Hall and Jarvis Tyner were the candidates of the Communist Party, U.S.A. (the "Party") for the offices of President and Vice-President of the United States, respectively, in the 1976 election. The principal campaign committee *fn3" supporting their candidacy was the defendant Committee. Defendant Bordofsky was treasurer of the Committee.

 The FECA requirements at issue in this action imposed recordkeeping and disclosure responsibilities on the Committee and Bordofsky. Under the recordkeeping provisions, Bordofsky was required to maintain records identifying the name and address of each person contributing in excess of $ 50 to the Committee, and the name, address, occupation and principal place of business of each person contributing more than $ 100. 2 U.S.C. § 432(c). The FECA disclosure provisions rerecorded information pertaining to contributors of more than $ 100. 2 U.S.C. § 434(b)(2).

 On March 5, 1976 the general counsel to the Committee rendered a written opinion to the defendants that these recordkeeping and disclosure provisions were unconstitutional as applied to the Committee and its treasurer, Bordofsky. Pursuant to this opinion, the Committee listed 424 contributors of more than $ 100 as "anonymous" in its reports filed with the FEC. *fn4" In addition, defendant Bordofsky failed to comply with the FECA recordkeeping requirements with respect to any contributors who elected to remain anonymous.

 Thereafter, following an unsuccessful attempt by the FEC to obtain compliance with the statute through informal methods of conference, conciliation, and persuasion, see 2 U.S.C. § 437g(a)(5)(A), the FEC instituted the instant civil enforcement action pursuant to 2 U.S.C. § 437g(a)(5)(B). The parties are agreed that the sole issue before this court is whether the above-cited FECA recordkeeping and disclosure requirements, as applied to the defendants, unconstitutionally abridge the associational rights guaranteed to the supporters of the Committee by the First Amendment.

 Discussion

 I. The Disclosure Requirements

 It is well established that the compelled disclosure of members in or contributors to an organization "can seriously infringe on privacy of association and belief guaranteed by the First Amendment." Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 64, 96 S. Ct. 612, 656, 46 L. Ed. 2d 659 (1976); see, e.g., Baird v. State Bar of Arizona, 401 U.S. 1, 91 S. Ct. 702, 27 L. Ed. 2d 639 (1970); Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479, 81 S. Ct. 247, 5 L. Ed. 2d 231 (1960); Bates v. Little Rock, 361 U.S. 516, 80 S. Ct. 412, 4 L. Ed. 2d 480 (1960); NAACP v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449, 78 S. Ct. 1163, 2 L. Ed. 2d 1488 (1958). Accordingly, governmental regulations requiring such disclosure must survive exacting judicial scrutiny. Id. Under this standard the government must show that the regulations further compelling governmental interests sufficient to justify the burden that compelled disclosure places on constitutionally protected rights. NAACP v. Alabama, supra, 357 U.S. at 463, 78 S. Ct. at 1172; Pollard v. Roberts, 283 F. Supp. 248, 256-57 (E.D.Ark.) (three-judge court), aff'd mem., 393 U.S. 14, 89 S. Ct. 47, 21 L. Ed. 2d 14 (1968).

 In Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 96 S. Ct. 612, 46 L. Ed. 2d 659 (1976), the Supreme Court applied these principles in analyzing a constitutional overbreadth attack on the FECA disclosure provisions at issue in the instant case. *fn5" The attack focused, in part, on the application of the disclosure requirements to minor political parties. The Court identified three substantial governmental interests generally served by the disclosure requirements. First, disclosure permits the electorate to more accurately determine the position of the candidates in the political spectrum, and alerts voters to the obligations of the candidates to special interests. Second, the requirements deter corruption by publicizing large contributions and expenditures. Finally, disclosure along with recordkeeping provides an essential means for detecting violations of the FECA contribution limitations. 424 U.S. at 66-68, 96 S. Ct. at 657-658.

 The Court concluded that these important governmental interests are less substantial when the disclosure requirements are applied to minor parties:

 
(T)he governmental interest in disclosure is diminished when the contribution in question is made to a minor party with little chance of winning an election. As minor parties usually represent definite and publicized viewpoints, there may be less need to inform the voters of the interests that specific candidates represent....
 
The Government's interest in deterring the "buying" of elections and the undue influence of large contributors on officeholders also may be reduced where contributions to a minor party ... are concerned, for it is less likely that the candidate will be victorious.

 Id. at 70, 96 S. Ct. at 659. The Court also recognized that the disclosure requirements create a more onerous threat to First Amendment ...


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