The Dangers of Disclosure: The Unintended Consequences of Campaign Regulations for Free Speech and Privacy

Policy Forum
March 27, 2007
12:00PM to 1:30PM EDT
Featuring Steve Simpson, Senior Attorney, Institute for Justice; Dick Carpenter, Director of Strategic Research, Institute for Justice; Stephen Weissman, Associate Director for Policy, Campaign Finance Institute; and John Samples, Director, Center for Representative Government, Cato Institute.
Most people support campaign finance disclosure laws–that is, laws that require contributors to political campaigns to disclose to the government and the public their identities, addresses, and, in some cases, employers. According to proponents, disclosure laws combat corruption by exposing campaign contributions to the light of day, and they provide information that assists voters in deciding how to vote. Research supporting these claims is sparse, however, and few studies have considered the impact of disclosure laws on rights to free speech, association, and privacy. At this event, the Institute for Justice will release a new study that examines disclosure laws as they apply to ballot issue campaigns. The results seriously undermine the assumption that forced disclosure contributes to a more informed electorate and underscore the adverse impact of disclosure laws on individual rights.