Court: Wis. campaign finance laws went too far

CREATED May 14, 2014

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MILWAUKEE (AP) -- An appeals court decision declaring major portions of Wisconsin's campaign finance laws unconstitutional should send a strong message to state regulators and lawmakers that the laws need an overhaul.

That's the takeaway from Wisconsin election law attorney Mike Wittenwyler.

The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Wednesday that rules regulating the speech of outside groups that do not expressly advocate for or against the election of candidates went too far. It also struck down a ban on political spending by companies and associations.

State regulators had already stopped enforcing some of those rules.

Wittenwyler says the "sweeping" ruling lends force to those earlier decisions, tells officials that they can't regulate groups that don't directly support or oppose a candidate and can't put too many requirements on those that do.