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SCOTUS declines to hear Zimmerman case

Tuesday, December 11, 2018 by Chad Swiatecki

The Supreme Court of the United States has declined to hear the case of former Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman, who sued the city over provisions of its campaign finance law that limited individual donor amounts and how much candidates could raise from donors outside the city. Zimmerman’s federal lawsuit took several turns since its initial filing in 2015, while he was still on Council, with lower courts agreeing with him that so-called “blackout periods,” which prohibited fundraising long before an election, were a violation of free speech rights. After an initial six-month window of allowed fundraising was struck down, the city instituted a one-year fundraising period that remains in place. In February, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the limits on individual and non-Austin contributions. While Zimmerman is disappointed his case won’t be heard, he said he’s glad that the blackout dates in the city’s laws were struck down. “We’re batting .500 against the city’s campaign finance curveballs, so that’s not too bad,” he said, adding that he’ll likely pursue a state Legislature seat instead of running for the District 6 Council seat he lost to Jimmy Flannigan in 2016. “The city seems determined to turn even harder to the left, and so I’m looking at a possible House District 47 run.” He added that he expects conservatives to mount more legal challenges to expected liberal policies from Austin’s City Council, and said he will file to have some of his legal fees in the lawsuit covered by the city as some of his claims were found to be valid.

This whisper has been corrected to clarify the original court ruling on the case.

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