As you know, Secretary of State Ross Miller, the most partisan SoS this state has perhaps ever seen, has been on a jihad against Citizen Outreach for the last two years in an effort to force us to disclose to him the identities of our donors despite that fact that we are not required to do so as an officially recognized IRS issue advocacy organization.
At issue is a pair of educational mailers we sent out to voters in the fall of 2010 which Miller is attempting to redefine as “express advocacy” by using a definition from a disputed ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which is in conflict with the definition established by the Supreme Court of the United States in the landmark Buckley v. Valeo decision.
Two things make this particular ruling particularly outrageous…
1.) We never got our day in court! The judge ruled on the lawsuit brought by Miller without a trial. On an issue as important as free speech, we were denied an opportunity to plead our case in court!
2.) The definition of “express advocacy” being used by Miller and upheld by the judge wasn’t put into Nevada law until 2011…almost a year AFTER the mailers were sent out. So we’re being prosecuted retroactively!
The question now is: Do we continue this fight and file an appeal with the Nevada Supreme Court? Here’s the thing:
The legal fees to file the appeal could easily run more than double or triple what the $10,000 fine itself is!
And that doesn’t even include the liability we could incur to pay the legal bills for the taxpayer-funded state lawyers who are freaking suing us!
THAT, folks, is the true chilling effect on free speech. And if I had any sense at all I’d just cut my losses, pay the fine, and be done with it.
But to hell with that!
We may still lose, but a principle as important as free speech is worth defending. If we go down, we’re not going down without a fight.
So our decision is that this decision will be appealed. Stay tuned…