Federal judge temporarily halts Ohio’s version of “Millionaire’s Amendment”

blind-justiceToday, United States District Court Judge Edmund A. Sargus issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner’s office, as a result of a complaint filed against the Secretary and the Ohio Elections Commission by Republican Secretary of State candidate Sandra O’Brien.  The complaint challenges the constitutionality of Ohio Revised Code section 3517.103, the “personal funds expenditure” section of Ohio’s election laws.

O’Brien’s complaint asserts that her rights of freedom of speech and of association under the 1st and 14th Amendments are violated by the enforcement of this provision of Ohio law.   The TRO was granted, prohibiting Brunner from accepting a “Declaration of No Limits” (Ohio Revised Code 3517.102) from O’Brien’s Republican primary opponent, Senator Jon Husted.

O’Brien puts her opposition to the issue in this way:  “The Ohio Secretary of State and the Ohio Elections Commission must take into consideration that they are out of step with the prevailing precedent from our highest court; and Ohio’s election law in this instance must be challenged.”  O’Brien refers to the 2008 US Supreme Court decision in Davis v. FEC, which overturned the so-called “Millionaire’s Amendment” to the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law, that set up a similar, but less restrictive provision in federal law regarding the use of personal funds in a contested race.

O’Brien is represented by attorney David Langdon, who stated “This law sets up a scheme of discriminatory contribution limits, keeping a candidate or their families from being able to support their relative, while allowing the opponent in the race unlimited access to special interest contributions as a “solution” to a dubious ‘problem'”.

Judge Sargus has directed the state to respond by noon on Friday, August 21st.  The case is O’Brien v. Brunner, number 09-cv-733.

Here are copies of the complaint and temporary restraining order.