Ready for Ron, the only credible organization working to draft Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to run for President, stepped up its fight with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today. At issue is whether Americans have free speech rights to “draft” candidates, with the FEC attempting to prevent Ready for Ron from sharing the names of those who want to draft him with Governor DeSantis. Ready for Ron filed a second round of public comments with the FEC challenging the Democrat Commissioners’ arguments at a recent public hearing related to Ready For Ron’s request to share its Draft petition and signers with DeSantis.
Prominent Republican campaign finance attorney Dan Backer recently argued at a public hearing in favor of Ready for Ron’s request to share the list of supporters with DeSantis both before, and during, a potential candidacy – as an act of Constitutionally protected political speech. In the filing today, he and Chief Legal Counsel Lilian Rodriguez-Baz offer a nearly 25-page argument citing binding D.C. Circuit Court precedent and legislative history of rejecting the exact proposal.
“The FEC would stop Ready For Ron from sharing a petition – the quintessential form of free speech – unless we also charged for it.” Dan Backer added. “Act Blue does the same thing we propose – sharing support names and contact information on a vastly larger scale – millions of individuals – while funneling well over a billion dollars a cycle”.
“The FEC is fine with Act Blue doing this to support Biden, as long as money is involved, but when the speech is actually free or is bad for Biden, suddenly it must be suppressed’” Backer continued.
The filing concludes arguments with the following:
“…This Commission, undeterred by a lack of any constitutional, statutory, or regulatory grant of power to regulate draft committees at all, has asked RFR for precedent justifying an action the Commission itself lacks precedent for prohibiting. The Committee has now afforded the Commission the benefit of precisely that binding D.C. Circuit precedent, the consistent rejection by Congress of the Commission’s repeated requests and proposals for such power, and the Commission’s own advisory opinions permitting precisely this activity. The Commission cannot ignore the reality it has approved tens of millions of political transactions accounting for billions of dollars in federal political activity – potentially as much as a third of all federal political contributions – in which contact information is conveyed from a contributor, through a conduit, to a candidate. It would grossly pervert the protection of the core constitutional rights of free expression and political association for this Commission to hold RFR could provide its signed petition to Governor DeSantis only if it forced signatories to make a monetary contribution to a draft fund to be transmitted to him for the privilege of signing…”
“FEC Democrats are happy to do all they can to prevent Ron DeSantis from beating the pants off Joe Biden in 2024. Their latest shameful effort to limit free speech once again puts them on the wrong side of the Constitution,” Backer noted. “More than a thousand people a day are signing this petition to let Ron DeSantis know they support him and want him to pursue a White House run. If the FEC persists in suppressing free speech, we are confident the Courts will once again put our rights ahead of their bureaucracy.”
The FEC previously rejected two draft advisory opinions, both of which would have prevented sharing the Ready for Ron petition signers with DeSantis while a candidate or “testing the waters,” but differed on whether it could be done while he was a private citizen. Democrat commissioners went so far as to suggest that even being asked to consider running for office could constitute “testing the waters” – a vast, unprecedented attempt to expand the FEC’s regulatory power over speech and ideas.
“I want the commission to tell me what exactly is ‘testing the waters,’ because my rights are not subject to an amorphous standard,” Dan Backer told Politico as he left the FEC meeting. “Ready for Ron will be aggressive and will pursue litigation should the commission try to throw up barriers.”
Commission Chair Allen Dickerson appeared taken with Ready for Ron's arguments, and the matter now goes back for a third draft attempt by the FEC. A new draft advisory opinion is expected in the coming days to form policy around a “testing the waters” standard.
“We are disappointed some on the FEC are once again standing in the way of political speech and freedom of association. Millions of Americans want Ron DeSantis to run. Signing their names to Ready for Ron’s draft petition is the ultimate act of political free speech and association, and there is simply no basis to say they cannot give those names to the Governor if – and when – he heeds their call and runs.
We’ve notified the Commission of our intent to file additional Public Comment on their next draft – addressing the silly arguments raised by some Democratic Commissioners – and if Litigation is where we end up over their partisan recalcitrance, we are confident we will prevail,” Backer continued.
Ready for Ron pursued the novel step of submitting a formal Advisory Opinion Request to the FEC seeking to share its supporter list with Governor DeSantis to encourage him to run, and – if successful – once he announces his candidacy.
Since its launch in late May, Ready for Ron enlisted tens of thousands of supporters, generated significant media attention, and run hundreds of ads to help convince Ron DeSantis to run for President. Ready for Ron has emerged as the only credible and significant independent organization in support of Ron DeSantis. Americans are encouraged to sign the petition at http://www.readyforron.com to draft Ron DeSantis to run in 2024.
For more information or to schedule an interview with ‘Ready for Ron’ legal counsel, Dan Backer or Lilian Rodríguez-Baz, contact Dan Rene at 202-329-8357 or firstname.lastname@example.org.