Won: Connecticut capitulated and restored the free speech rights of fundraisers

Adam Kissel’s years working for nonprofit organizations and the U.S. Department of Education helped him become extremely knowledgeable about the field of higher education and the movement for freedom and limited government. 

Along the way, Adam has developed a knack for fundraising and philanthropy, and he has been asked by several charitable organizations to help with their fundraising efforts. One such organization is the Jack Miller Center, a nonprofit focused on civic education. The Center wants to pay Adam about ten hours a week to talk with potential donors in several states, including Connecticut. 

Adam has long-standing ties to the organization, and he greatly admires its mission to help professors and instructors teach students about America’s founding principles, government, and history. However, his work stalled before it even got started due to state registration and reporting requirements for paid solicitors. 

Connecticut’s rules were particularly burdensome, requiring, among other things, copies of scripts or promotional materials three weeks before the start of a fundraising campaign.  

In other words, Adam must tell the state in advance when he plans to talk to a potential donor and what exactly he’ll say, and report to the government the name of everyone who gives 

Connecticut law also required Adam to maintain files containing private information about donors and to make that information available to the state on demand. 

Connecticut’s professional fundraising laws killed fundraisers’ ability to engage in timely, topical, and spontaneous speech, as well as donors’ ability to give anonymously. 

Represented free of charge by PLF, Adam fought back with a federal lawsuit to defend fundraisers’ protection against prior restraint by the government and donors’ right to give anonymously. The judge granted our motion for preliminary injunction, which was made permanent when Connecticut conceded that the challenged laws would be found unconstitutional. In addition to permanently stopping enforcement of the challenged laws, the State agreed to post a notice on its website so that fundraisers would know that these onerous requirements were no more.

What’s At Stake?

  • The government cannot demand that you tell them in advance what you are going to say and provide them with a script before you can speak. Nor can the government rob citizens of their privacy when they donate to a nonprofit.

Case Timeline

January 28, 2021