James Madison Center for Free Speech

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The James Madison Center for Free Speech is a legal defense organization in Washington, D.C., United States[1][2] devoted to challenging legal restrictions on money in politics, such as limits on campaign contributions.[3]


The James Madison Center was founded by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in 1997 with help from Betsy and Richard DeVos.[1][2][4] Its general counsel is James Bopp.[5][6] The non-profit was founded to protect political expression as part of the First Amendment and to counter the American Civil Liberties Union's campaign finance work.[7][8] The Center provides free legal services to underfunded clients, however most funds go to Bopp's law firm.[8]

In 2020, the Corporate Officers and Board of Directors of the Center are: Wanda Franz, President; Darla St. Martin, Secretary; and David N. O’Steen, Treasurer.[9] The Board doesn't play an active role in governing the organization, delegating management to Bopp.[8]

It has supported the recognition of the Ten Commandments as one of America's founding texts.[10] It opposed a measure proposed by the Federal Election Commission to ban nonprofits from expressing views on public policy.[11]


In 2013, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the IRS that the James Madison Center misrepresented its activities by diverting a majority of its funds to Bopp's law firm and was in "violation of prohibitions against using charitable organizations for private inurement and private benefit."[12] Bopp countered the complaint by calling it a smear campaign by CREW.[13]

According to journalist Jane Mayer, James Bopp's law firm and the Madison Center have the same address and phone number, and "virtually every dollar from donors" goes or went as of 2016 to Bopp's law firm.[3]


  1. ^ a b John David Dyche, Republican Leader: A Political Biography of Senator Mitch McConnell, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2009 p. 124 [1]
  2. ^ a b Ann Southworth, 'Lawyers of the right: professionalizing the conservative coalition', Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008, p. 30 [2]
  3. ^ a b Mayer, Jane (2016). Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. Doubleday. pp. 232–236.
  4. ^ Moskowitz, P. E. (2019-08-20). "Everything You Think You Know About 'Free Speech' Is a Lie". ISSN 0027-8378. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  5. ^ Dya Shapiro, Ilya Shapiro, Cato Supreme Court Review, 2009–2010, Cato Institute, 2010, p. 429 [3]
  6. ^ Keevan Morgan, Why You Are a Liberal – Or Should Be, Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse, 2004, p. 135 [4]
  7. ^ "Mission Statement". www.jamesmadisoncenter.org. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  8. ^ a b c Campbell, Jon (2012-10-05). "How Does James Bopp Jr. Fund His Legal Work Attacking Campaign Finance Reform?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  9. ^ "Officers and Directors". www.jamesmadisoncenter.org. Retrieved 2021-01-05.
  10. ^ William J. Federer, The Ten Commandments & Their Influence on American Law – A Study in History, Amerisearch, Inc., 2002, p. 7 [5]
  11. ^ Mark Sidel, More Secure, Less Free?: Antiterrorism Policy & Civil Liberties after September 11, Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2007 [6]
  12. ^ "Press Conference Fiasco over IRS Whistleblower Complaint". Accounting Today. 2013-07-09. Retrieved 2021-01-06.
  13. ^ Nelson, Jennifer. "Attorney says Washington nonprofit's complaints are part of 'smear' campaign". The Indiana Lawyer. Retrieved 2021-01-06.

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