Des Moines Register: In Iowa, super PACs take on new roles


The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan legal organization, fights laws it perceives as being counter to public interest and democracy. Paul Ryan, senior counsel with the center, said his organization has already filed several complaints against super PACs, including the organizations that support Bush, Walker, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

“To put it bluntly, we’re kind of swamped right now,” Ryan said.

Ryan said that complaints against super PACs must be filed with the FEC or the U.S. Department of Justice. There’s no cause of action to take a case into a traditional court, he said. The FEC comprises three Republicans and three Democrats. Four votes are needed to take action on a complaint, and those votes consistently end in deadlock.

“We still have pending complaints that we filed in 2011 – that’s how bad things are,” Ryan said. “And these are complaints that we thought were slam dunks. Not controversial novel legal theories. Violators who admitted they broke the rules.”

He noted that FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel told The New York Times in May that “the likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim… People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.”

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