FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 23, 2006
Wisconsin Right to Life
James Bopp, Jr.
Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom
WRTL Asks FEC to Issue
Statement of Policy Protecting Grassroots Lobbying
Today Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc.
("WRTL") asked the Federal Election Commission to issue a statement
of policy to protect grassroots lobbying from the prohibition on
"electioneering communications." If the FEC issues such a policy statement,
WRTL agrees to stay all proceedings in WRTL v. FEC (WRTL's suit to establish a
grassroots lobbying exception to the electioneering communication prohibition)
while the FEC pursues a rulemaking to create a grassroots lobbying exception
rule. WRTL also offered to dismiss the case if the FEC adopts a rule with the
The grassroots lobbying exception that WRTL
proposes follows the definition that a broad-spectrum coalition recently
proposed as the subject an expedited rulemaking. The coalition, comprised of
the AFL-CIO, Alliance for Justice, Chamber of Commerce of the United States,
National Education Association, and OMB Watch, asked the FEC for an expedited
to revise 11 C.F.R. 100.29(c) to exempt from the
definition of "electioneering communication" certain
"grassroots lobbying" communications that reflect all of the
following principles: 1. The "clearly identified federal candidate"
is an incumbent public officeholder; 2. The communication exclusively discusses
a particular current legislative or executive branch matter; 3. The
communication either (a) calls upon the candidate to take a particular position
or action with respect to the matter in his or her incumbent capacity, or (b)
calls upon the general public to contact the candidate and urge the candidate
to do so; 4. If the communication discusses the candidate's position or record
on the matter, it does so only by quoting the candidate's own public statements
or reciting the candidate's official action, such as a vote, on the matter; 5.
The communication does not refer to an election, the candidate's candidacy, or
a political party; and 6. The communication does not refer to the candidate's
character, qualifications or fitness for office.
71 Fed. Reg. 13557.
James Bopp, Jr., lead counsel for WRTL,
comments: "While this rule does not go as far as the U.S. Constitution
would extend protection to grassroots lobbying, the proposed rule is a very
good rule that balances the concerns of all sides and provides a workable test.
It would provide the ability to engage in useful grassroots lobbying, and it
would eliminate any realistic concerns about such grassroots lobbying being
employed as the functional equivalent of express advocacy."
The letter requesting the statement of policy
and offering settlement may be read at www.jamesmadisoncenter.org
under the section on Wisconsin Right to Life's McCain-Feingold Challenge.
James Bopp, Jr. has a national federal and state
election law practice. He is General Counsel for the James Madison Center for
Free Speech and former Co-Chairman of the Election Law Subcommittee of the
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