An anti-abortion group which functions as a corporation has filed a lawsuit challenging a new state law that calls for some disclosure of how corporations spend money on Iowa political campaigns.
The state law was drafted in response to a U.S. Supreme Court decision which cleared the way for corporations to advertise for or against candidates. Kaylan Phillips works at the law firm that’s been hired by the Iowa Right-to-Life Committee to challenge the law.
“The Iowa Right-to-Life has activities that it wants to do before this election so, because we’re on a short time-frame, we wanted to hurry up and file this lawsuit and get relief for Iowa Right-to-Life as soon as possible,” Phillips says.
According to Phillips, the new state law requires corporations like Iowa Right-to-Life to form a political action committee in order make a political ad. Phillips argues that’s an “unconstitutional” restriction.
“Corporate speech has been protected by the Supreme Court, especially in this most recent Supreme Court case of ‘Citizens United,'” Phillips says, “and it’s important to make sure that their speech is protected.”
The Iowa Right-to-Life lawsuit asks a federal judge to issue an injunction which would temporarily put the new state law on hold until the case is resolved.
A state senator who helped steer the law through the legislature dismisses the lawsuit as a “political stunt.” Senator Jeff Danielson is a Democrat from Waterloo, says the lawsuit is designed to keep Iowa voters “in the dark” in the final weeks of this campaign.
“The irony of the timing is not lost on me,” Danielson says. “The very reason for this simple, common-sense ‘Sunshine Law’ was so that at the end of elections, when all of the negative campaigning happens, Iowa citizens could find out for themselves who paid for it and why.”
The new state law requires corporations like Iowa Right-to-Life to file reports with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board outlining how much is being spent on a candidate in Iowa. “We think we’ve got one of the best laws in the country from a legal standpoint, but also from the citizens’ viewpoint,” Danielson says. “They have a right to this information and they shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time or a lot of money to find that out.”
The law cleared the state legislature with the support of both Democrats and Republicans. Only one legislator voted against it.