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Call it non-disclosure politics.

Chula Vista Citizens For Jobs And Fair Competition and its parent, the Associated Builders And Contractors of San Diego, have accused the City of Chula Vista of placing unconstitutional limits on how initiative petitions can be circulated in that city.

In a case filed yesterday in federal court here, the contractors--who are battling labor unions over the issue of whether non-union contractors should be able to bid on city subsidized contracts--claim that city clerk Donna Norris and the city council have denied them their First Amendment right “to engage in core political speech.”

The plaintiffs say the city’s requirement that only a “natural person”—as opposed to a corporation or other type of organization—can circulate a petition, “impermissibly chills their political speech and so is unconstitutional under the First Amendment.”

The contractors are also challenging Chula Vista’s requirement that their group’s identity needs to be disclosed on each petition.

“Chula Vista Citizens intends to engage in the core political speech that occurs with initiative petitions,” the complaint says. “It wants to do this organizationally without having to ask its individual members to serve as the proponent for initiatives that Chula Vista Citizens intends to propose to voters.

“And it wants the right to be able to engage in anonymous political speech at the point of contact with the voters—that is it does not want to have to disclose its name as a proponent on the Circulated Version, which must be placed on the sections of the initiative petitions when they are passed to the voters.

“Rather, it wants to make sure that its ideas, rather than its identity, is what is evaluated by the voters when they are asked to consider its initiative petitions.”

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