Third party candidates ask for injunction in against state campaign finance case


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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — A candidate for Wyoming secretary of state is asking a federal judge to block the state from enforcing a fundraising prohibition that only affects third-party candidates.

Torrington resident Jennifer Young, the Constitution Party candidate, and Pine Bluffs resident Donald Wills on Wednesday asked U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne to grant a preliminary injunction against the state. The judge hasn't set a hearing yet on the request.

Young and Wills, who wants to contribute to Young's campaign, sued Gov. Matt Mead and Secretary of State Max Maxfield in federal court last month. They charge that the state's campaign finance laws unfairly limit fundraising for candidates whose parties don't participate in primary elections.

The state of Wyoming hasn't yet filed a response to the lawsuit and court records don't reflect that any attorney has entered an appearance for the state.

Steve Klein, a Cheyenne lawyer with the Wyoming Liberty Group, is on the legal team representing Young and Mills. He said Friday the lawsuit seeks to overturn a prohibition on third-party candidates accepting political contributions before the primary election, held Aug. 19 this year, while major party candidates face no such restriction.

"It's very important to get it in," Klein said of the injunction request. "Every minute that ticks by is a minute that Jennifer Young can't raise money and people can't contribute to her, not a dime. And that goes for many other independent, or third-party, candidates."

A bill sponsored by Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, and Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, that would have allowed political candidates not participating in primary elections to accept general election contributions before the primary election failed in the 2014 legislative session. The Senate voted 14-to-16 against considering the bill in this year's short budget session.

"I think it's huge, you have people out there who want to have another voice outside of the Republican or Democratic party," Klein said. "And the law itself is making that practically impossible so you have to start your campaign on Aug. 19 while everyone else is out there campaigning for months before that."

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