Of course, the part of the blogging summit that interested me was the law talk.
Here is the Virginia Campaign Finance Disclosure Act, and here are the Disclosure Requirements for Political Campaign Advertisements, both discussed discussed (in quite lively and candid fashion by Chris of the SBE) on Saturday.
§ 24.2-901 contains these definitions:
"Contribution" means money and services of any amount, and any other thing of value, given, advanced, loaned, or in any other way provided to a candidate, campaign committee, political committee, inaugural committee, or person for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election or defraying the costs of the inauguration of a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General. "Contribution" includes money, services, or things of value in any way provided by a candidate to his own campaign and the payment by the candidate of any primary filing fee.
"Expenditure" means money and services of any amount, and any other thing of value, paid, loaned, provided, or in any other way disbursed by any candidate, campaign committee, political committee, inaugural committee, or person for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election or defraying the costs of the inauguration of a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, or Attorney General.
"Independent expenditure" means an expenditure made by any person or political committee that is not made to, controlled by, coordinated with, or made upon consultation with a candidate, his campaign committee, or an agent of the candidate or his campaign committee.
"Political committee" means any state political party committee, congressional district political party committee, county or city political party committee for a county or city with a population of more than 100,000, organized political party group of elected officials, political action committee, other committee, person or group of persons which receives contributions or makes expenditures for the purpose of influencing the outcome of any election.
Regarding "services," section 24.2-902 says: "Services shall not be deemed to include personal services voluntarily rendered for which no compensation is asked or given."
Section 24.2-910(B) requires:
"Any person who is not a political committee and who makes independent expenditures, in the aggregate, in excess of $500 for a statewide election or $200 for any other election shall maintain records and report pursuant to Article 4 of this chapter all such independent expenditures including:
1. Any funds expended for the purpose of influencing the outcome of any election for public office; and
2. Any funds expended to publish or broadcast to the public any material referring to a candidate by name, description, or other reference and (i) advocating his election or defeat, (ii) setting forth his position on any public issue, voting record, or other official acts, or (iii) otherwise designed to influence individuals to cast their votes for or against him or to withhold their votes from him."
Regarding the scope of the disclosure requirements, section 24.2-941 says: "The disclosure requirements of this chapter apply to any sponsor of an advertisement in the print media or on radio or television the cost or value of which constitutes an expenditure or contribution required to be disclosed under Article 4 (§ 24.2-914 et seq.) of Chapter 9 of this title except that the disclosure requirements of this chapter do not apply to (i) an individual who makes uncoordinated independent expenditures aggregating less than $1,000 in a political campaign or (ii) an individual who incurs expenses only with respect to a referendum."
Section 24.2-942 contains these definitions:
"Advertisement" means any message appearing in the print media, on television, or on radio that constitutes a contribution or expenditure under Chapter 9 (§ 24.2-900 et seq.) of this title. "Advertisement" shall not include novelty items authorized by a candidate including, but not limited to, pens, pencils, magnets, and buttons to be attached to wearing apparel.
"Print media" means billboards, cards, newspapers, newspaper inserts, magazines, mass mailings, pamphlets, fliers, bumper stickers, periodicals, website, electronic mail, and outdoor advertising facilities. A "mass mailing" is a mailing with more than 500 pieces.
The State Board of Elections has this summary on political advertisements.
Here (I think) is the Virginia Supreme Court's opinion in Virginia Society for Human Life v. Caldwell, in which the Court responded to the following certified question:
"Whether Va. Code Ann. §§ 24.2-901, -908, -910 & -1014 apply to issue advocacy groups, or whether the use of the phrase “for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election” and related phrases limits the application of those statutes to groups that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate."
The Court held "that the phrase 'for the purpose of influencing the outcome of an election,' as used in Code §§ 24.2-901, -910, and –1014, as well as its implication for terms used in Code § 24.2-908, may be narrowly construed to limit the application of those statutes to groups that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate."
The U.S. Supreme Court opinions cited by the Court in VSHL v. Caldwell are Buckley v. Valeo and McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission.