CHEYENNE, WY – The Pillar of Law Institute filed a lawsuit in Wyoming federal court today, challenging a law that prohibits delegates to political party conventions from accepting books, travel stipends, and legal assistance from non-profits.
“For the upcoming Republican Convention, delegates could receive unlimited money from individual donors, but could not accept even books or a travel stipend from organizations like Pillar,” said Benjamin Barr, lead counsel in the case. “Federal election law actually bans the distribution of books to delegates because it deems them corrupting. This is not just fundamentally unfair; it is also unconstitutional.”
The Pillar of Law Institute is a non-profit public interest law firm that focuses on free speech and campaign finance law. It would like to provide books to convention delegates that discuss delegates’ rights and free speech, but is prohibited from giving “anything of value” by the corporate ban. Pillar is joined in the lawsuit by two unnamed Republican delegates who would like to speak out about delegate autonomy at the convention and receive assistance against any legal threats that they might face.
“If there’s one thing Donald Trump knows well, it’s baseless legal threats,” said Steve Klein, Pillar attorney and co-counsel in the case. “Whether facing accusations of defamation, bribery, or anything else from Republican candidates or power-brokers, convention delegates should have access to free legal counsel to fight back, especially if those threats go to court. But legal representation is banned under the law, too.”
The lawsuit is against the agency that enforces federal campaign finance law, the Federal Election Commission. The delegates joining the suit aim to sue the agency pseudonymously, without having to reveal their real names.
“Some delegates who have already spoken out have faced death threats from those believing they should shut up and not do anything that might hinder Trump’s nomination,” said Barr. “A federal law designed to stop corruption only stops these delegates from banding together to determine the future of the Republican Party. The First Amendment’s protection of delegates’ rights is unequivocal here and Pillar seeks to block this unjust law.”
The lawsuit will seek a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of the law to allow Pillar to contribute books, provide legal counsel and offer travel stipends to convention delegates.