Jason Pye wrote last night about the crusade to silence dissent by the Republicans in the House. Today, a coalition of Georgia-based and national nonprofits have released a letter of opposition to SB 127, which includes a problematic section passed by the House that could deter these organizations from engaging in paid issue advocacy 180 days from an election.
Signers to the letter include representatives from Georgia Tea Party Patriots, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and Americans for Tax Reform. The letter is below.
April 2, 2015
RE: URGENT CONCERNS WITH SB 127
Dear Legislative Conferees and Governor Nathan Deal,
We, the undersigned organizations, have grave concerns about the House substitute to
Senate Bill 127, state ethics and elections rules. As amended, the legislation will have a
chilling effect on free speech in Georgia by restricting the ability of nonprofit organizations
to engage in public debates and political discourse.
In the waning hours of the Georgia General Assembly, there have been several concerning
developments, but none more concerning than Senate Bill 127’s tortured substitutions and
parliamentary maneuvers. If passed, Section 19 of SB 127 will profoundly redefine the ability
of advocacy groups in Georgia to communicate with the voting public during the electoral
process. SB 127 now is remarkably similar to recent legislation pushed by former Speaker
Nancy Pelosi in Washington, D.C. designed to silence advocacy groups from educating the
voting public. Fortunately, it didn’t pass at the federal level.
The restrictions on “paid issue advocacy” outlined in SB 127 exist nowhere else in
the nation. In expanding the definition of “communications” nonprofits can employ to
educate the public on their position on a wide range of issues, this bill seeks to restrict civic
engagement from organizations across the political spectrum.
This legislation adds blog posts, opinion editorials, letters to the editor, legislative
scorecards, emails and other correspondence to a list of communications subjected to
restrictions within 180 days of elections in Georgia. That extended period of time essentially
restricts nonprofits from expressing their First Amendment rights from January to
November in any election year without the threat of demands to disclose the members and
donors of organizations who participate in public dialogues.
The 1958 Supreme Court case of NAACP v. Alabama put a stop to this type of onerous
legislative restriction on free speech and free association. The Court’s decision to provide for
“immunity from state scrutiny” for organizations like the NAACP at the time guaranteed an
important protection on First Amendment rights. The case protected members of
organizations from intimidation and harassment. The 2010 case of Citizens United v. FEC
further restored free-speech protections for non-profit organizations.
SB 127 would tear down those constitutionally protected rights, for individuals and
If this bill is signed into law, Georgia would restrict free speech and association more so than
any other state in the nation. SB 127 stands to hurt not only the organizations who
participate in public discourse but the voters, taxpayers, and residents of Georgia who will
no longer be entitled to know where elected officials truly stand on important public policy
The clandestine and confusing efforts to advance SB 127 not only make for bad public
policy, but are seen by members of impacted organizations as a legislative weapon intended
to silence dissenting voices.
We strongly urge you to correct or defeat SB 127 and any other effort to promote similarly
heavy-handed public policy.
Georgia Tea Party Patriots
Georgia Tea Party Patriots
Atlanta Tea Party & Georgia Tea Party Patriots
Jenny Beth Martin
Co-Founder Tea Party Patriots
Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund
Chairman/ President Georgia Grassroots Coalition
Executive Director Faith and Freedom Coalition
Director of Messaging/ Georgia Resident
President and Chairman Citizens United
President, Susan B. Anthony List
Brent Wm. Gardner
Vice President of Government Affairs
Americans for Prosperity
President & CEO, Americans United for Life
President, Eagle Forum
Amy Noone Frederick
President,60 Plus Association
L. Brent Bozell III
President, American Commitment
Southern Regional Director Faith and Freedom Coalition
President,Americans for Tax Reform