Case Details


Campaign Finance

Filing State



U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit




Lavin v. Husted, 689 F.3d 543 (6th Cir. 2012)


Ohio statute limiting campaign donations to prosecutors (including the Attorney General) by Medicaid providers was unconsitutionally broad.

Case Description

Ohio law makes it a crime for state attorney general or county-prosecutor candidates to accept campaign contributions from Medicaid providers or any person with an ownership interest in a Medicaid provider. A number of physicians who were Medicaid providers wanted to contribute to an attorney general candidate, but he returned their contributions. They brought an action for declaratory judgment against the secretary of state, alleging that the statute was unconstitutional. After the trial court held that the court should not second-guess the legislature’s choice to prevent public corruption, the Medicaid providers appealed. The Secretary of State (represented by the attorney general) argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing and that since the election was over, their case was moot. The appeals court held that the First Amendment rights of the plaintiffs had been infringed, and that the issue was capable of repetition, yet evading review, so it was not moot. The court then turned to the question of whether the contribution limits were closely tailored to the problem they were trying to cure. The Secretary of State argued that they prevented corruption, but the court required a more detailed showing. The Secretary conceded that there was no evidence that the attorney general or local prosecutors in Ohio have abused their discretion by declining to prosecute Medicaid providers who contributed to their campaigns. The court concluded that ban was not sufficiently closely drawn to withstand scrutiny, in part because only .003 percent of Ohio’s 93,000 Medicaid providers had been prosecuted in the past year. The statute was found unconstitutional.