If you give money to the Socialist Workers Party, your name won't show up in Federal Election Commission records.
The FEC on April 25 agreed to continue a long-standing reporting exemption for the party's supporters - all 118 of them - who gave money in 2012. The party received $16,087 in total contributions last year.
The socialist party argued that public disclosure of its donors’ names, addresses and occupations would deprive them of their First Amendment rights because it would open them up to harassment.
The party, which was represented by Michael Krinsky and Lindsey Frank of Rabinowitz, Boudin, Standard, Krinsky & Lieberman in New York, provided the FEC with 57 exhibits documenting 45 examples of harassment. These included statements attesting to firings and workplace intimidation, allegations of hostility from local government law enforcement sources and alleged governmental information gathering and sharing about party members.
In granting the reporting exemption, the FEC held that the threat to donors' First Amendment rights outweighs the government’s “insubstantial interest” in disclosure.
That’s because it’s unlikely a socialist candidate will win an election. As the FEC noted in its advisory opinion, “Despite proffering a presidential candidate in every election since 1948 and numerous other candidates for Federal, State and local offices, no [Socialist Workers Party] candidate has ever been elected to public office in a partisan election.”
The party’s presidential candidate in 2012, James Harris, received 3,509 votes.
The FEC said the party must keep and maintain records about its donors. But for FEC reporting, the party will assign a code number to each individual or entity giving more than $200 in a calendar year or applicable election cycle rather than revealing their names.
The reporting exemption runs through 2016.