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ACTION ALERT: NO ON HB1705 – Stifling Free Speech About Judicial Candidates

The Arkansas House will be voting soon on HB1705, a bill marketed at stopping Dark Money but would put a chilling effect on a person’s free speech rights to say anything, positive or negative, about a judicial candidate if that statement somehow influences the publics perception of a candidate. The chilling effect is that it would force groups that tell voters what a judicial candidate has done to disclose the names, addresses, and employers of donors, leading them to either not donate or to not say anything at all for fear or intimidation or retaliation.

Contact Information for Your Legislator HERE:

Or you can call the House of Representatives at (501) 682-6211.

More specifics on this bill:

  • Statements attempting to “influence the perception” of a judicial candidate would now be defined as an “independent expenditure” and require disclosure of donor information like name, address, and employer. This definition could apply to any statement, positive or negative.
  • Would allow political opponents a private cause of action to sue to chill their speech and/or to disclose their private donors.This would result in political opponents suing and taking opponents to court to try and stop their speech.
  • Government forced disclosure of donors undermines a person’s privacy and could be targeted for their membership in a church, organization, or any other group that says anything about a judicial candidate. This becomes a safety issue and a form of intimidation against potential donors to an organization.
  • Could affect nonprofit 501(c)(3) charities who provide information about a judicial candidate in items such as a voter’s guide or printing any information on how a judicial candidate decided a case.
  • While billed as stopping Dark Money, this bill would put a chilling effect on speech about judicial candidates that they don’t like. There are already protections for any speech that is libel, slander, or defamatory.
  • The remedy for speech with which you disagree is more speech, not government enforced silence.
  • Transparency is for government, privacy is for citizens.

Courtesy of Conduit For Action

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