CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant has agreed not to enforce state laws limiting contributions to political action committees that are independent of candidates and parties.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston still must approve the agreement proposed Wednesday between Tennant and the PAC Stay the Course West Virginia.
In the order prepared by Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office, which represented Tennant, and attorneys for the PAC, the parties agreed that state laws limiting the independent contributions are unconstitutional.
Last year, Johnston granted a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of the $1,000 contribution limit imposed by state law. That ruling followed the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision that condemned corporate and labor union campaign contribution limits as violating rights of free speech.
The independent political action committee, as well as corporate and individual contributors who sought to contribute more than $1,000 to the PAC, filed the lawsuit.
Independent PACs spend their money without any input from a candidate or a candidate's committee or political party.
If Johnston approves the agreement, provisions of state code and regulations limiting the amount of contributions no longer will be enforced.
Individuals and corporations wishing to contribute money directly to a candidate or that candidate's party, however, still would have a $1,000 limit per election.
Stay the Course defines itself as an independent PAC, meaning it is not affiliated "in any way with any political party, corporation, membership organization, political candidate, or committee, or any agent or representative of any political candidate," the proposed order states.
Independent expenditures are defined as "expressly advocating the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate, and that are not made in concert or cooperation with or at the request or suggestion of such candidate, his or her agents, the candidate's authorized political committee or a political party committee or its agents," according to state law.