CHEYENNE, WY – Judge Alan B. Johnson of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming approved a settlement in the case Wills v. Maxfield today, issuing a consent order that halts enforcement of certain campaign finance laws against minor party and independent candidates and their contributors. The order comes a few weeks after the Wyoming Office of the Attorney General responded to a motion for preliminary injunction, agreeing that injunction should issue.
“This is an excellent result,” said Steve Klein, WyLiberty staff attorney and co-counsel to Wills and Young. “Minor party and independent candidates may now raise money for their races and contributors may donate to their campaigns. It’s a great day for free speech.”
The lawsuit was filed in late June by Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys on behalf of Jennifer Young, Constitution Party candidate for Wyoming Secretary of State, and Don Wills, who would like to contribute to Young. The suit challenged state campaign finance provisions as violating the constitutional rights of free speech and equal protection. State law restricts minor party and independent candidates from raising almost any campaign money until after the August 19 primary and allows major party candidates to raise up to twice the amount of money per contributor, but the settlement eliminates these disparities.
“As the consent order is written, minor party and independent candidates and contributors are now on equal footing with major party candidates and contributors,” said Benjamin Barr, counsel to WyLiberty and co-counsel to Wills and Young. “It’s hard enough to compete outside of the major parties, but state campaign finance laws can no longer protect the Republican and Democrat monopoly.”
The consent order takes immediate effect.
“The injunction frees Wills, Young and every other minor party and independent candidate or contributor in Wyoming to fully participate in this year’s elections,” said Boyd Wiggam, WyLiberty staff attorney and co-counsel to Wills and Young. “This is a big win.”
Steve Klein, staff attorney