A conservative think tank on Tuesday sued the state over a rule that allows unions and certain other groups to make campaign donations of up to $15,000 while barring businesses from making any direct political donations to candidates. The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute said the lawsuit targets a rule it believes violates the constitutionally protected rights of equal protection and free speech. The institute filed the suit in Suffolk Superior Court on behalf of two Massachusetts businesses — 1A Auto Inc., an auto parts shop in Pepperell, and 126 Self Storage Inc., a self-storage facility in Ashland. It names the head of the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance, Michael Sullivan, as the defendant. “There is no legitimate justification for allowing unions to contribute thousands of dollars to candidates, parties, and political committees, while completely banning any contributions from businesses,” the lawsuit said.
The Office of Campaign and Political Finance doesn’t comment on pending litigation, a spokesman said.
The lawsuit targets a rule that allows a group that isn’t a political committee and that doesn’t have any corporate money in its general treasury to make direct contributions to political candidates.
Under the rule, the group can donate up to 10 percent of its general fund, up to the $15,000 limit, to a candidate. After that, contributions by the group are limited to $500 donations.
If the group has any corporate backers, they are barred from making any donations under a state law prohibiting corporate contributions to candidates.