CLC Files Suit Urging the FEC To Investigate $4.8 Million in Secret Spending Advocating Against Former Presidential Primary Candidate Bernie Sanders

Millions in Secret Money Spent by Big Tent Project Fund to Defeat Former Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders Continue to Evade Campaign Finance Laws

Washington, D.C. -  Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed suit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) after the agency failed to act on CLC’s May 2020 complaint alleging that Big Tent Project Fund (Big Tent Project) violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by failing to register as a political committee and failing to report its contributions, expenditures and debts.

During the 2020 presidential election, Big Tent Project spent more than $4.8 million on ads targeting voters in key states and expressly advocating against Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders. Once Sanders’ path to the presidential nomination became nearly impossible, Big Tent Project’s election spending dropped precipitously. Donors to the group remain unidentified to this day.  

In its May 2020 complaint, CLC further alleged that, even if Big Tent Project were not a political committee, it still violated federal law by failing to disclose the identities of contributors who gave for political purposes and funded its independent expenditures and by failing to report all its independent expenditures exceeding $250.  

“As the only government agency with the sole responsibility of overseeing the integrity of our federal political campaigns, the FEC’s failure to protect voters’ right to know who is trying to influence their votes and take action on this blatant violation is yet another example of the agency’s dysfunction and its disregard for the campaign finance laws it was designed to oversee,” said Erin Chlopak, director, campaign finance strategy, CLC.

Big Tent Project’s election spending, along with public statements by and about the group, overwhelmingly indicate that its major purpose was influencing the 2020 presidential election, namely by defeating Sanders. But despite such compelling evidence, the FEC has failed to act on CLC’s administrative complaint for more than a year. 

The failure of the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion of secret spending, and our politics are increasingly rigged in favor of special interests. To reduce political corruption, CLC urges the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws and hold Big Tent Project accountable.

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