Monday, September 25, 2023
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MA Businesses Fight Bar on Political Donations

(CN) - A Massachusetts ban against political contributions from businesses is unfair since unions are allowed to fund candidates, two family-owned businesses claim in court.

1A Auto, Inc. and 126 Self Storage sued the director of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance Michael Sullivan in Suffolk Superior Court, Mass.

"This civil rights action seeks to vindicate the constitutional rights of businesses to participate on equal footing with unions and other groups in the political process," the complaint begins.

The businesses take issue with the Massachusetts bar against businesses or business-controlled political action committees (PACs) from making political contributions to candidates or political parties.

Labor unions are nevertheless allowed to contribute, both directly and indirectly via PACs, to their candidate or party of choice, according to the complaint.

"There is no legitimate justification for allowing unions to contribute thousands of dollars to candidates, parties, and political committees, while completely banning any contributions from businesses," the complaint states.

The businesses say "this lopsided ban" violates their rights of equal protection, free speech, and free association.

Plaintiff 1A Auto is a family-owned corporation that sells auto parts in Pepperell, Mass. Another family owns 126 Self Storage, which rents storage units in Ashland, Mass.

Both claim that they would make contributions to candidates, PACs and party committees, but for the law barring their political participation.

The lawsuit seeks a declaration that defendant's application of different political contribution limits to business and unions is unconstitutional.

Gregory Cote with McCarter & English in Boston represents the plaintiffs.

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