The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

September 19, 2013

Court of Appeals vacates decision that made PAC-to-PAC transfer ban unconstitutional

From staff, wire reports

MONTGOMERY — The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday vacated a lower court's decision from 2011 that had held unconstitutional, in part, Alabama’s ban on transferring money from one political action committee to another.

The 11th Circuit ruled that the lower court "erred in holding that the state’s interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption was insufficient as a matter of law to justify the ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers.”

The 11th Circuit noted that "political operatives have historically used PAC-to-PAC transfers to make campaign contributions while avoiding Alabama’s disclosure requirements, thus permitting corruption and the appearance thereof to flourish.” 

Because the Attorney General’s Office had “presented ample evidence of possible corruption through PAC-to-PAC transfers to withstand summary judgment,” the 11th Circuit vacated the lower court’s decision and sent the case back for further proceedings. 

Attorney General Luther Strange said he is pleased with the ruling.

“The PAC-to-PAC ban was the Alabama Legislature’s unanimous response to serious problems of corruption and lack of transparency,” Strange said. “The fight against public corruption is at the top of my agenda, and I look forward to establishing the constitutionality of this law when we are back in the district court.”

In December of 2011, a federal district court ruled that the Alabama Democratic Conference could continue to accept money from outside political groups for get-out-the-vote campaigns and other voter education programs despite the 2010 ban by the state Legislature on PAC-to-PAC money transfers.

The Attorney General’s Office immediately appealed. The court decision today is the result of that appeal.

The case is Alabama Democratic Conference, et al. v. Strange, et al.