By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – Campaign finance rules will not be suspended, a federal judge decided, for a Lafayette County citizens group supporting an eminent domain initiative today.
Late last week, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock said no to their request to temporarily lift restrictions to allow them to spend money in support of the ballot issue.
The group told Aycock that state laws are burdensome to require them to register as a political committee and file regular reports about receipts and spending.
Lawyers for the state attorney general’s office and secretary of state said the public interest was served by the disclosures.
At a hearing Nov. 1, an attorney for the group told the judge they will press on with a lawsuit regardless of her decision on their temporary request.
Mississippi requires candidates and political groups to register when they raise or spend more than $200.
In her 25-page memorandum, Aycock said the state’s interest in providing campaign information to the public is important.
She said that after studying various circuit rulings about other state disclosure laws, she found that the plaintiffs “failed to demonstrate the likelihood” they would succeed with their larger lawsuit, which was a key to gaining a temporary injunction on the finance law.
Aycock also said that greater harm to the state outweighed the harm to the plaintiffs, if she granted the campaign law suspension to them.
“The court additionally finds that granting a preliminary injunction would not serve the public interest,” she said.
The parties’ “lateness” in making the request weighed against them, too, the judge wrote.