Bailey v. Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics: Another Step Toward the End of Political Privacy

“The Cutler Files” was a blog opposing Eliot Cutler, then-candidate for Governor of Maine. The Cutler campaign called for an investigation by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, claiming the blog qualified as “express advocacy” against Cutler’s election under Maine election law. The blog was authored anonymously by Maine resident Dennis Bailey, who revealed himself following the investigation and $200 fine by the Commission. Bailey then brought suit against the Commission for violating his First Amendment right to free speech. In Bailey v. Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics, Judge Nancy Torresen affirmed the $200 fine against resident Dennis Bailey. If the Bailey ruling catches on, disclosure regimes may reach even the smallest expenditures, effectively negating the political privacy once recognized in First Amendment jurisprudence. Despite the weight of Citizens United, there are still myriad problems with federal and state campaign finance regimes.

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