Washington Law Review


Scott Holleman


The possibility that elected officials may exchange their votes on pending legislation for donations to help their re-election campaigns poses a serious threat to democratic government. To alleviate this risk, governments at the state and national levels regulate how politicians finance their campaigns. However, these regulatory efforts have been challenged on First Amendment grounds. In Buckley v. Valeo, the United States Supreme Court upheld certain campaign contribution limits, while declaring certain expenditure limits unconstitutional. The Washington State Supreme Court relied on the Buckley opinion in Washington State Republican Party v. Washington Public Disclosure Commission, when it ruled that the First Amendment barred the state from limiting certain expenditures by political parties on issue advertisements. However, in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, which clarified and expanded upon the Buckley decision, the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld some restrictions on issue ad expenditures. This Comment argues that, in light of the McConnell decision, the state court's decision misinterpreted Buckley. The Washington State Supreme Court improperly concluded that Washington State's prohibition on the expenditure of soft money for issue advertisements by the state's political parties was unconstitutional. Accordingly, this Comment calls for the state's Public Disclosure Commission to adopt rules barring such expenditures.

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