ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Pillar of Law Institute attorneys Benjamin Barr and Stephen Klein joined a team of attorneys to defend Dennis Fusaro and Stephen Waters against charges from the Maryland State Prosecutor that they produced an illegal “robocall,” an automatic phone call that plays a recorded message to the recipient. Fusaro and Waters could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine for not including an appropriate disclaimer. Barr and Klein drafted a motion to dismiss, arguing the state law and prosecution are unconstitutional violations of free speech.

“America welcomes more voices in politics, not less,” said Barr, President of Pillar. “Maryland is using campaign finance law to silence the voices of those it believes to be politically disagreeable. This just shuts down important debates we all should be having.”

Barr and Klein make a number of arguments in the motion, including that the Maryland law is unconstitutionally overbroad, vague and contains prior restraints.

“Unlike most states, which require actual spending or contributions before registering as a campaign finance entity, Maryland requires registering with the government just to speak,” said Klein. “On top of that, because neither Fusaro or Waters are Maryland residents, the law actually prohibited them from registering. The law is not only unconstitutional; it was legally impossible for Fusaro and Waters to comply with it.”

Fusaro and Waters were previously found guilty in Anne Arundel District Court. The current trial is in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

“If the charges are allowed here, Marylanders could be punished for Facebook posts, tweets or e-mails that do not contain the right disclaimer,” said Barr. “The law does not regulate money in politics—which is supposed to be the focus of campaign finance law—but political speech.”

Oral argument on the motion is currently scheduled for June 7.

The Pillar of Law Institute is a nonprofit organization located in Washington, D.C. that educates the public about their First Amendment rights and defends citizens against investigations and prosecutions that abridge these rights. Attorneys Barr and Klein join counsel John Garza, Mandeep Chapra, Graven Craig and Christopher Kachouroff in the defense.

Click here to download the memorandum in support of motion to dismiss.

Benjamin Barr