New Haven, Connecticut; January 28, 2021: A fundraising worker filed a lawsuit today challenging a Connecticut law that forces paid solicitors to tell the state in advance when they plan to talk to a potential donor and exactly what they’ll say, and report the name of everyone who gives—even just a $1 gift—to the government. Going off script could lead to a $5,000 fine and one year in prison.
Adam Kissel fundraises for causes and organizations he cares about, like the nonprofit Jack Miller Center. He hoped to use his experience a few hours a week to help the Center by reaching out to potential donors in several states, including Connecticut, but these restrictions stopped his efforts.
In addition to the chilling effect the rules have on fundraisers, they also violate donors’ right to privacy.
“Connecticut’s paid solicitor requirements clearly violate the First Amendment,” said Daniel Ortner, an attorney at Pacific Legal Foundation. “Fundraisers have the right to speak with prospective donors without the state listening in. Forcing them to submit scripts and wait 20 days before speaking is an unconstitutional prior restraint on their speech.”
Represented by PLF free of charge, Adam Kissel filed his lawsuit, Kissel v. Seagull, in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut.
Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
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