Without explanation, federal Judge James Moody Wednesday granted a request by the state attorney general’s office to stay his preliminary injunction against the state law that prohibits campaign fund-raising more than two years before an election.
Peggy Jones, a Republican activist, filed the suit. Republicans want to raise money perpetually. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin, who’s been planning a race for governor in 2022, has been particularly vocal about getting the law struck down. Jones said she hoped to give money now to Sen. Mark Johnson, who’ll run for re-election in 2022, and unspecified others.
Moody, in a brief order Monday, said Jones was likely to prevail in her lawsuit and issued the injunction. But the state asked him to put the injunction on hold while it appeals to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Moody granted that motion without comment yesterday.
This drew a motion for reconsideration from Jones’ attorney Chad Pekron. He said the state has shown no likelihood of success in the appeal. He also argued:
Defendants have failed to prove that the balance of the equities is in their favor. The only interest that Defendants have put forward is an interest in enforcing a law that they have admitted does nothing to combat corruption and that this Court has already determined is likely unconstitutional. On the other hand, Plaintiff’s First Amendment right to make political contributions to candidates of her choosing is clearly being restricted every day the injunction is not in place. The public interest, moreover, is on the side of permitting Plaintiff to exercise her constitutional rights. When in doubt, speech should be permitted, not restricted, particularly when the restriction at issue is likely unconstitutional.
As I noted previously in the context of the urgency of Jones’ desire to give money: Johnson didn’t begin fund-raising for his 2018 May primary race until three months before the election. Jones gave him $250 for that race a month before the election.
For now, a candidate still may not take a political contribution until two years before an election. There are races on the ballot in 2020, legislative and judgeships among them, to which Jones and others may legally support with money.