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Appeals court blocks Minnesota law on corporate political spending disclosure

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Minnesota Appeals CourtA Minnesota law that requires companies to track and disclose the amount of money they spend on political campaigns likely violates the U.S. Constitution, a federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday.

In a 6-5 ruling, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis temporarily blocked the law, saying it burdens companies' free speech, in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 decision Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That case removed limits on what companies and unions can spend to support or oppose political candidates.

"After Citizens United, it is clear Minnesota may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker's corporate identity," Judge William Riley wrote for the majority.

The Minnesota law requires companies and other organizations to establish a political fund if they spend more than $100 a year on political speech. The fund must have a treasurer who segregates political funds, keeps detailed records and files reports with the state. Failure to comply can result in fines and imprisonment up to five years.

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