Broward News

Boca Raton Teenager, ACLU of Florida Suing to Let Kids Donate More Money to Candidates

With the way campaign-financing laws are going these days, this may not even be surprising -- the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and a 17-year-old girl from Boca Raton are challenging a state law that prohibits minors from giving as much money to state and local political candidates as adults and corporations can.

According to the ACLU, the girl, Julie Towbin, got locked out of a Palm Beach County Democratic Executive Committee fundraising dinner last year because the $150 ticket price may have violated the state law limiting youngsters' political contributions to $100 (adults and corporations can donate up to $500 per candidate).

"The law goes overboard by restricting my ability to access the political process, effectively support candidates for office, and express my views as others do," Towbin says through the ACLU. "The state is violating a right guaranteed to me by the First Amendment -- the right to engage in political speech."

Towbin, who's still in high school, banked more than $7,000 working as a congressional House page last year and even more working as a restaurant cashier.

The ACLU says Towbin wrote the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, the Palm Beach County State Attorney, the State Attorney General, and the Florida Elections Commission asking for assurance that she wouldn't get screwed by paying for a ticket to this dinner, but no one gave her the go-ahead.

Now Palm Beach State Attorney Michael McAuliffe and the six commissioners on the Florida Elections Commission get their names printed as "defendants" on the ACLU's lawsuit.

The ACLU notes that federal election rules are consistent across any age -- no person may contribute more than $2,500.

Money is speech nowadays, so the ACLU says the right to free speech can't be limited based on who's speaking.

Check out the ACLU's lawsuit below:

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley