WRTL Asks FEC to Issue Statement of Policy Protecting Grassroots Lobbying


March 23, 2006


Barbara Lyons
Wisconsin Right to Life


James Bopp, Jr.
Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom
812-232-2434 (office)
812-243-0825 (cell)


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 exception.


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 rulemaking

 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 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 Federalist Society.
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