Court Lifts San Diego|Cap on Political Money

     (CN) – The 9th Circuit has lifted a ban on political party donations in San Diego, a move that could open the floodgates on contributions before the June 8 election. The city adopted a $1,000 cap on donations last month, but it will not take effect until after the election.

     With the city election three weeks away, the federal appeals court on Tuesday granted Republicans’ request to allow political party donations.
     U.S. District Judge Irma Gonzalez ruled in February that such donations should be allowed, but stayed that decision until San Diego capped contributions.
     Last month the city adopted a $1,000 cap, but that won’t go into effect until late June due to procedural delays.
     The 9th Circuit’s ruling is the latest development in a lawsuit filed by the city’s Republican Party and others to loosen the city’s campaign-finance laws.
     Republicans have said the current laws are too restrictive and violate free-speech rights.
     In late April, Phil Thalheimer, the Republican Party of San Diego, the Associated Builders & Contractors and others filed an emergency motion asking the 9th Circuit to vacate Gonzalez’s stay.
     The 9th Circuit granted their motion, despite protests from the city that lifting the order would be unfair to residents and would jeopardize the election process.
     The city has banned political party contributions since 1973, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
     The upcoming election includes contests to replace outgoing council members Donna Frye and Ben Hueso. Councilmen Kevin Faulconer and Tony Young are seeking re-election.
     In Gonzalez’s February ruling, she allowed candidates to spend their own money on campaigns and lifted restrictions on the amount of money an individual can give to a political action committee that campaigns on behalf of a candidate.
     Her decisions reshaped the city’s longstanding laws.

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