ACLU of Maine Files Lawsuit to Defend Anonymous Blogging about Candidates

On March 10, the ACLU of Maine filed a lawsuit on behalf of Dennis Bailey, who was recently fined by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices for creating an anonymous blog about Eliot Cutler. Cutler was a leading independent candidate for Governor of Maine last year. He placed second, ahead of the Democratic nominee, and came close to winning. Here is the complaint, which is called Bailey v State of Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. It is filed in state Superior Court in Cumberland County.

Maine campaign finance laws require that a person who makes an “expenditure” advocating the election or defeat of a candidate must state his or her name and address. The law exempts newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media. Bailey spent $92 on his blog, and didn’t identify himself on his blog, so he was fined. The lawsuit argues that the law is unconstitutional. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1995 in McIntyre v Ohio Elections Commission that the First Amendment protects the distribution of campaign literature that does not include the name and address of the person who writes and distributes that literature. Thanks to Alex Hammer for this news.


ACLU of Maine Files Lawsuit to Defend Anonymous Blogging about Candidates — 7 Comments

  1. Pingback: Digest for 3/12 | Stuck in a Digital-Haze

  2. The EVIL Brits had the old EVIL *seditious libel* stuff regarding the rotten Brit regime —

    Result in the U.S.A. — the First Amdt — copied from various 1776-1789 State Constitutions – Bill of Rights sections — speech, press, assemble, petition

    ALL folks on this list should read the McIntyre opinion and take it to heart. Lots of EVIL old stuff in the very bad old days.

  3. leave it to dennis bailey to keep this story alive – you would think a “savvy pr guru” would know better. He continues to keep the story going. The story isnt whether anonomous blogging should be allowed – the story is that he lied to the media and to the state investigators.

  4. The Bailey complaint gives no indication that Bailey was charged with lying to the Commission. It does allege facts that, if true, raise a serious First Amendment question under the Supreme Court’s McIntyre decision. Does Francis have evidence that any government entity has charged Bailey with lying to investigators in connection with the blog about Cutler? If not, “the story” here is about the First Amendment right of individuals to engage in anonymous political speech that involves only nominal expense. “Demo Rep” is right: Read the McIntyre decision. It is central to what the First Amendment is all about.

  5. I am glad to see that the complaint relies on the state constitution’s free speech provisions. In “Opinion of the Justices” (I think it was 1972 or 1974) the Maine Supreme Court found that anonymous speech is protected speech. That decision should control the result here, although plaintiff should also win under the First Amendment claim, under Talley v California (1960) and McIntyre.
    It is unfortunate he didn’t ask for damages.

  6. Will the victim STRIKE BACK against the EVIL Empire — and try and bankrupt it — for violating constitutional rights ???

    See the Star Wars movies.

  7. Francis: Lying to state investigators is a crime. Bailey has not been accused of any such thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *