Hi Mary Beth,
When lawmakers introduce bills that would substantially affect the lives of South Carolniians – whether for good or ill – it's our aim to tell you about it. And so we wanted to alert you to legislation that's a very big deal. It's S.255, filed by Sen. Hugh Leatherman. Read a more detailed analysis here.
Essentially the bill would force nonpolitical organizations – groups like ours and many others around the state – to hand over information about their supporters to state authorities.
Why? Because we sometimes criticize lawmakers' conduct and policies.
That is nothing but an attempt to intimidate those whose views politicians don't like by scaring away their supporters. It's flatly unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds, as federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court have held many times. And it's especially brazen when state lawmakers can keep special interest money hidden from sight – legally. (See SCPC President Ashley Landess's Wall Street Journal op-ed on an earlier version of the bill.)
The bottom line: Transparency is for government; privacy is for citizens. Sen. Leatherman's bill gets that principle exactly backwards.
We'll update you on this and other bills as session gets into full swing.
—Policy Council staff