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Federal Court Upholds Disclosure Law

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit told an anti-abortion group Tuesday that it has to disclose the names of its donors in accordance with Washington state laws.

While the case dealt with issues on the state level, the decision has national implications as the campaign finance community is haggling over transparency rules. The federal court ruled that all groups that try to influence ballot measures must register as political committees with the state and disclose their contributors and expenditures.

Attorney James Bopp Jr., who advised Citizens United in its Supreme Court case against the Federal Election Commission, represented the plaintiff, Human Life of Washington. Bopp argued that the nonprofit did not have to register and disclose its donors as a political action committee to run ads against the practice of assisted suicide.

“Today’s ruling was a victory for citizens over special interests,” said Paul Ryan, associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, which filed a brief in the case in favor of transparency. “As more and more anonymous special interest money is flooding into the 2010 election cycle, the Ninth Circuit ruling is particularly important in light of the fact that disclosure laws are facing challenges from coast-to-coast.”

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