I gotta tell you, I was pretty darned depressed yesterday.
But today I kinda feel like that zombie cat in Florida…back from the dead!
In case you missed Sean Whaley’s story in this morning’s Las Vegas Review-Journal, we were informed yesterday that the Nevada Supreme Court had rejected our appeal of a lower court decision which ruled that our organization, Citizen Outreach, had violated campaign finance laws related to a pair of issue mailers we did about then-Assembly Speaker John Oceguera in 2010.
That decision, by the way, was reached by First Judicial District Court Judge James Wilson without even giving us a day in court to present our case and arguments. He just issued a “summary judgment” against us and in favor of former Secretary of State Ross Miller, who brought the suit.
Judge Wilson’s decision resulted in a fine of $10,000 and several thousands more in court costs and government attorney fees. But more troubling, we would have required us to disclose the names of our donors even though the mailers were for protected “issue advocacy” and not “express advocacy” for the defeat of a candidate.
You can read the story by clicking here
However, in reading the Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision on Tuesday, we noticed that something wasn’t right. The “dissenting” opinion of the two justices who supposedly wrote in our favor was word-for-word identical to the majority opinion declaring that we’d lost our appeal.
So while we resolved our loss to ourselves and pondered our next move, we nonetheless questioned why the dissenting opinion mirrored the majority opinion. Indeed, it seemed clear a mistake had been made in posting the dissenting opinion and obviously we wanted to know what the justices had to say who it appeared had taken our side.
Indeed the Court announced this morning that a clerical error had been made and the Clerk was ordered to expunge the decision that had been posted. But when the new decision was posted, we discovered that the error wasn’t in publishing the dissenting opinion, but in the majority opinion. As it turned out…
“Because it is undisputed that Citizen Outreach’s flyers do not contain magic words of express advocacy, the flyers were not subject to regulation under Nevada’s campaign practices statutes that were effective in 2010,” the five Justices in the majority wrote. “Accordingly, we ORDER the judgment of the district court REVERSED.”
Amen and hallelujah!
You can read the full Court decision reversing Judge Wilson’s decision by clicking here
Of course, we would have been thrilled if we had simply won the case.
But to have found out we won after we *thought* we’d lost – especially in light of all the Snoopy Dances people like liberal blogger Jon Ralston were doing at our supposed defeat – well, it’s that much sweeter.
Indeed, Oceguera himself gloated in the RJ story, telling Whaley he was happy with the decision. “You just can’t skirt the law,” he said.
And now he and everyone else knows…
I can’t thank our attorney, Craig Mueller of Mueller Hinds & Associates in Las Vegas enough for taking on this case. And Allen Dickerson of the Center for Competitive Politics in Washington, DC who handled the appeal. We never would have been able to successfully fight this fight without their help and support.
And special thanks to Citizen Outreach CEO, Dan Burdish, who actually did all of the legal legwork for Citizen Outreach in preparing both our original case and our appeal.
I know this is coming out late, however, Mr. Mueller, Mr. Burdish and I will be celebrating this huge victory for free speech at Mundo Restaurant in the World Market Center in downtown Las Vegas (directly across from the soccer stadium that will never be built!) at 5:30 pm TONIGHT.
Please stop by and join us if you’re in the ‘hood!