CLC Scores Victory in Lawsuit Over FEC Inaction on Clinton Campaign’s Coordination Scheme

Washington, D.C. – In a win for transparency, the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia sided with Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in a case challenging the failure of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to act regarding a massive coordination scheme between the 2016 presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and Correct the Record, a super PAC.

In the December 8th opinion (linked here), the court ruled that the FEC had acted “contrary to law” in dismissing CLC’s 2016 FEC complaint against the Clinton campaign and Correct the Record, which alleged the groups had openly coordinated millions of dollars of spending in violation of federal disclosure requirements and contribution limits designed to provide transparency to voters.

“Voters have a right to know how candidates are financing their campaigns for public office. The Commission’s failure to hold the Clinton campaign and this super PAC accountable for up to $9 million in coordinated spending creates a loophole that would allow many more millions of dollars of undisclosed contributions to flow from outside groups to federal candidates across the ideological spectrum,” said Tara Malloy, senior director for campaign finance litigation and strategy at CLC. “This decision takes a crucial step to ensuring that the Federal Election Commission cracks down on coordination between purportedly independent super PACs and the campaigns they seek to subsidize.”

The original 2016 complaint (linked here) contended that Correct the Record had made, and the Clinton campaign had received, millions of dollars in illegal, unreported and excessive in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated expenditures. Despite FEC career staff attorneys concluding that the coordination orchestrated by Correct the Record likely violated the law, the Commission deadlocked and dismissed the complaint in 2019, prompting CLC to sue the FEC.

This decision remands the matter to the FEC, ordering the Commission to act within 30 days in accordance with the ruling.

The FEC’s failure to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion of illegal political spending. This is an important step toward closing a loophole that could otherwise continue to allow millions of dollars of undisclosed contributions to flow from supposedly independent super PACs to the campaigns of federal candidates.