Advisory Opinion NO 2010-05

QUESTION PRESENTED

Whether Advisory Opinion No. 2001-32 is still valid so that the Georgia Ethics in Government Act (the “Act”) does not apply to activity that is limited to independent spending that does not include express words of advocacy for or against a clearly indentified candidate.

The Center for Individual Freedom (the “Center”) has requested this Opinion to determine if the State Ethics Commission has changed its position on the regulation of independent spending that does not include express advocacy of an identified candidate or a political result. In its Advisory Opinion No. 2001-32, the Commission stated that the independent committee provisions of the Act were intended to reach groups which raise and expend funds to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate. The statutory language “to advocate or defeat” as explained by the Commission was an acknowledgment and adoption of the express advocacy standard as outlined in Buckley v. Valeo, Secretary of the United States Senate, et al., 424 U.S. 1, 80 (1976).

ADVISORY OPINION

As of this date, the express advocacy standard remains to be the standard under which independent expenditures are regulated in this State. The Commission therefore answers this request for advisory opinion in the affirmative; that is, yes at this time, Advisory Opinion No. 2001-32 remains to be the current advice from the Commission.

The Commission may adopt changes to this Advisory Opinion in the future upon the adoption of subsequent Commission rules regarding the regulation of independent spending.

Prepared by Stacey Kalberman, Executive Secretary
April 5, 2011


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