Frank v. City of Akron, No. 5:98CV2862.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court of Northern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtPolster
Citation95 F.Supp.2d 706
PartiesJohn V. FRANK, et al., Plaintiffs, v. CITY OF AKRON, et al., Defendants.
Decision Date02 December 1999
Docket NumberNo. 5:98CV2862.
95 F.Supp.2d 706
John V. FRANK, et al., Plaintiffs,
CITY OF AKRON, et al., Defendants.
No. 5:98CV2862.
United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division.
December 2, 1999.

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Robert M. Gippin, Karen M. Doty, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, Akron, OH, for plaintiffs.

Cheri B. Cunningham, Max Rothal, City Of Akron, Law Department, Akron, OH, for Akron, City of, defendant.

Warner DeWitt Mendenhall, III, Akron, OH, for Bruce Kilby, Mike Parsons, Patricia Longville, intervenors-defendants.

Brian J. Williams, Akron, OH, for Yes on Issue 11 Campaign, Gregory D. Coleridge, intervenors-defendants.


POLSTER, District Judge.

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment challenging a campaign finance reform amendment to the City of Akron's Charter passed by ballot initiative in November 1998 (Doc. No. 36). Defendant City of Akron has filed a response (Doc. No. 44), as have Intervening Defendants "Yes on Issue 11 Campaign" and Gregory D. Coleridge (Doc. No. 57), and Intervening Defendants Mike Parsons, Bruce Kilby, and Patricia Longville (Doc. No. 58). Specifically, Plaintiffs seek summary judgment declaring Sections 5(C), (D),(G)(1) and (G)(2) of the City of Akron's Charter Amendment unconstitutional. Plaintiffs further seek an order permanently enjoining the enforcement of these provisions.

For the reasons that follow, Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 36) is GRANTED with respect to Sections 5(C), (D), and (G)(1) of the Charter Amendment. Plaintiffs' motion is, DENIED with respect to Section 5(G)(2) since the Court finds that this provision is not unconstitutional and may be enforced.


On November 3, 1998, an overwhelming majority of the voters in the City of Akron supported issue 11, a ballot initiative, which amended the City Charter to add a section on Campaign Finance Reform. The Charter Amendment sets limits on the amount of campaign contributions and loans, requires disclosure of a contributor's home address and primary employer, and places restrictions on the fund-raising season for political campaigns.1

On December 10, 1998 the instant action was filed by the following six individual plaintiffs: John V. Frank, Marco Summerville, John W. Valle, Robert G. Konstand, Nancy Heslop, and Charles Walker. Each of the Plaintiffs are residents of the City of Akron who have participated in and who desire to continue to participate in electoral politics by, among other activities, making and receiving campaign contributions or loans. Together they brought this action for injunctive and declaratory relief alleging that the Akron Campaign Finance Charter Amendment is unconstitutional as a matter of law.

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Plaintiffs maintain that the Ordinance abridges their rights of free speech, free association and equal protection of the laws under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States. In addition, Plaintiffs claim that provisions of the Ordinance are vague and overbroad, thereby depriving them of rights secured under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution and the laws of the State of Ohio.

On December 15, 1998, by Stipulation and Order, a Preliminary Injunction was entered enjoining the enforcement of Sections 5(B), (C), (D), (E), (F), (G)(2) and (I) of the Charter of the City of Akron.

On December 16, 1998 Bruce Kilby, Mike Parsons and Patricia Longville filed a Motion to Intervene as party defendants in the case. (Doc. No. 6.) On December 22, 1998, a group of citizens identified as "Yes on Issue 11 Campaign" together with Gregory D. Coleridge similarly filed a Motion to Intervene. (Doc. No. 10.) Both motions to intervene were granted by the Court on January 11, 1999.

A Case Management Conference was conducted on February 22, 1999, with all parties or their representatives in attendance. On April 8, 1999, the Court conducted a Status Hearing, which was followed by a telephonic status hearing on April 15, 1999.

On May 15, 1999, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Partial Judgment on the Pleadings, arguing that Sections 5(B), (E), (F) and (I) of the Charter Amendment are unconstitutional on their face.2 (Doc. No. 30). Arguably conceding the fact that such provisions violated the First Amendment, neither group of Intervening Defendants filed any opposition to this pleading. By Order of June 9, 1999, the Court granted Partial Judgment on the Pleadings as to Sections 5(B), (E), (F) and (I) of the Charter Amendment, declaring the same to be null and void.3 (Doc. No. 33).

The remaining four Subsections, namely C, D, G(1) and G(2) of Section 5, are the subject of the instant Motion for Summary Judgment filed by the Plaintiffs on June 25, 1999. As described below:

Subsection C sets a cash contribution limit of $25 to any candidate for Mayor or City Council within any fundraising season.

Subsection D sets a noncash contribution limit for a Mayoral or At-Large Council candidate at $300, and for a Ward Council candidate at $100, from any person, campaign committee, political party or political action committee, per election cycle.

Subsection G(1) requires disclosure of the home address of all persons who make any financial contribution or loan to any campaign for municipal office (regardless of the amount of contribution.)

Subsection G(2) requires the identification and disclosure of the primary employer of every person who contributes

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$50 or more to any campaign for municipal office.

Plaintiffs urge that established precedent demonstrates that the overall contribution limits of the Charter Amendment cannot withstand scrutiny in a city of this size, as a matter of law. "The cash contribution limits and disclosure requirements are moreover clearly unconstitutional on their face, without the need for a comparative analysis between Akron and other political entities." Plaintiffs' Br. at 3.

From the outset, the City of Akron has taken the position that the entire Charter Amendment is manifestly unconstitutional. In its response, the City of Akron affirmatively states that it concurs with Plaintiffs' analysis of the pertinent case law as well as Plaintiffs' conclusions that the challenged sections are unconstitutional. Defendant's Br. at 1. Hence, Plaintiff and Defendant agree that adjudication of this matter is readily amenable to summary judgment as it is purely a question of law to be determined by the Court.

The Intervening Defendants, however, vigorously oppose the granting of summary judgment and argue that Plaintiffs have not met their burden under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56.4 They further reiterate their objection to the Court's denial of discovery in this matter, arguing for their right to uncover the true existence of corruption in the City of Akron's political arena.5 In support of their opposition and contentions, Intervening Defendants submitted two substantial Evidentiary Appendices pursuant to Rule 56(e).


Summary judgment "shall be rendered forthwith if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The court is to determine "whether there is the need for a trial — whether, in other words, there are any genuine factual issues that properly can be resolved only by a finder of fact because they may reasonably be resolved in favor of either party." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 250, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986). The court views the evidence of record and draws all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. See LaPointe v. United Autoworkers Local 600, 8 F.3d 376, 378 (6th Cir.1993).

"[T]he mere existence of some alleged factual dispute between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is that there be no genuine issue of material fact." Anderson, 477 U.S. at 247-248, 106 S.Ct. 2505. In order for there to be a genuine issue for trial, there must be sufficient evidence favoring the nonmoving party for a jury to return a

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verdict for that party. Id. at 249, 106 S.Ct. 2505. Having discussed the Rule 56 standard of review, the Court now turns to the merits.


The touchstone of the constitutional analysis of campaign finance restrictions remains Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 96 S.Ct. 612, 46 L.Ed.2d 659 (1976). It is established that "contribution and expenditure limitations operate in an area of the most fundamental First Amendment activities." Id. at 14, 96 S.Ct. 612. In Buckley, the plaintiffs brought First Amendment challenges to various provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, which included a $1,000 limitation on federal campaign contributions.

In evaluating the limitations on both political contributions and expenditures, Buckley established that "contribution and expenditure limitations impose direct quantity restrictions on political communication and association by persons, groups, candidates, and political parties." Id. at 18, 96 S.Ct. 612. Striking down the limitations placed upon campaign expenditures, but upholding a $1000 limitation on campaign contributions, the Court ruled that while limitations on contributions burden First Amendment rights, such limits are not as constitutionally suspect as expenditure limitations. It explained that the expenditure limits

necessarily reduce[] the quantity of expression by restricting the number of issues discussed, the depth of their exploration, and the size of the audience reached (footnote omitted). This is because virtually every means of communicating ideas in today's mass society requires the expenditure of money.

Id. at 19, 96 S.Ct. 612. However, by contrast, the Court...

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1 practice notes
  • Frank v. City of Akron, No. 00-3050.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 22 Mayo 2002
    ...than Akron's, the district court concluded that the charter amendment contribution limitations were not "closely drawn." Frank v. Akron, 95 F.Supp.2d 706, 714-16 & n. 14 (N.D.Ohio 1999) (citing Russell v. Burris, 146 F.3d 563, 568 (8th Cir.1998) (overturning contribution limits of $100 and ......
1 cases
  • Frank v. City of Akron, 00-3050.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • 22 Mayo 2002
    ...than Akron's, the district court concluded that the charter amendment contribution limitations were not "closely drawn." Frank v. Akron, 95 F.Supp.2d 706, 714-16 & n. 14 (N.D.Ohio 1999) (citing Russell v. Burris, 146 F.3d 563, 568 (8th Cir.1998) (overturning contribution limits of $100 and ......

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