Elected Politician Using Government Web Site to Mobilize Public Opposition to Private Speech About Politicians

The Public Advocate for the City of New York (Bill de Blasio) has a site that lists major (nonmedia) corporations’ stands on using corporate money to speak about candidates for political office. Then, for corporations that are so speaking, the site lists contact information with the line

Demand that corporations stop taking advantage of Citizens United: Call [corporation name] at [phone number]

(or gives an e-mail address). For corporations that aren’t so speaking but haven’t pledged not to engage in such speech, the site uses the line “Hold [corporation name] Accountable: Call [corporation name] at [phone number].” The site does not list any such information about unions, who were also freed to speak by Citizens United.

I don’t think there’s any constitutional barrier to the government’s trying to put public pressure on certain organizations, in order to keep them from speaking about politicians. But it still struck me as unusual, and worth noting. If you’d like to express your views about the policy, call Bill de Blasio’s office at (212) 669-7200; if you’re a New York City resident, you might want to use the constituent services line, (212) 669-7250. Thanks to the Holtzman Vogel PLLC blog and to Barnaby Zall for the pointer.