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Court tosses Wisconsin limit on PAC donations

•  Recent Cases     updated  2011/08/03 08:33


A federal appeals court ruling could lead to even more spending in Wisconsin's recall elections.

A 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Monday that the state's $10,000 annual contribution limit on so-called "super PACs," or political action committees that do not coordinate with specific candidates or their campaigns, can't be enforced while a lawsuit from one of the groups is pending.

The lawsuit was brought by Wisconsin Right to Life's political action committee, and the group's attorney said it will immediately begin soliciting big-dollar donations to spend in the recalls targeting six Republicans and two Democrats.

"They will raise money in excess of the limits," said Right to Life attorney James Bopp, Jr.

To date, Wisconsin Right to Life's PAC reported spending only $325 on telephone calls in support of Republican Sen. Randy Hopper and against his Democratic challenger, Jessica King.

The appeals court said the donation limit can be exceeded while the underlying lawsuit is pending. Wisconsin Right to Life argues that the limits are an unconstitutional restriction on free speech.

Oral arguments were tentatively planned for September, after both the Aug. 9 elections targeting six Republican state senators and elections a week later involving two Democratic incumbents.



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