Individual Contractors Sue Over Right to Make Campaign Gifts

October 19, 2011

Three individual awardees of federal contacts filed a lawsuit Wednesday challenging the constitutionality of a 1972 law that makes it a crime for such contractors to give campaign donations to candidates in any federal election.

The plaintiffs -- two contractors for the U.S. Agency for International Development and one for the Administrative Conference of the United States -- argued that a section of the Federal Election Campaign Act violates both the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution and the First Amendment. They said the federal employees they work with are not subject to the ban and that the law treats corporations with larger government contracts more favorably than it does individuals.

"Many individuals who have government contracts are unaware of this provision, which does not even allow someone to give $10 to a candidate or committee that has nothing to do with government contracts," said the plaintiffs' attorney, Alan B. Morrison, associate dean for public interest and public service at The George Washington University Law School, in a statement accompanying the release of the complaint. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. 

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