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Lee Goodman Discusses Impact of ‘Honest Ads Act’ on First Amendment Rights

The Daily Beast, The Daily Caller
June 10, 2019

Lee E. Goodman, partner in Wiley Rein’s Election Law & Government Ethics Practice, was quoted by The Daily Beast and The Daily Caller in recent coverage of a Senate bill that would create disclosure rules for paid online political advertisements. The legislation, known as the “Honest Ads Act,” would require Internet sites, including social media platforms, to collect and publicly disclose the identity of citizens who spend as little as $500 to sponsor ads discussing political issues.

Mr. Goodman, who previously served as Chairman and Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission, said the bill would violate the First Amendment rights of groups that purchase online political ads.

“There are very sensitive issues of public policy that people want to talk about without being exposed,” Mr. Goodman told The Daily Caller. “It will chill small organizations and grassroots efforts.”

He added that the legislation would not prevent the type of foreign interference that occurred during the 2016 presidential election. “Congress should not restrict the civil liberties of American citizens in response to threats from foreign influence like we did during the Red Scare” of the late 1940s and 1950s, Mr. Goodman said.

In a separate article, published by The Daily Beast, Mr. Goodman said the framework for the Honest Ads legislation is “totally broken” and would force groups to “disclose who they are and where they are anytime they want to speak about an issue.”

The Daily Beast article can be found here. The Daily Caller article can be found here (subscription required).