Court Must Require FEC to Enforce the Law or Risk Rampant Abuse by Super PACs in 2020
Republican FEC commissioners let Clinton campaign off the hook for coordinating millions in spending with super PAC
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia over the agency’s failure to enforce the law limiting coordination between candidates and billionaire-funded outside groups and requiring full disclosure of such coordination. The super PAC “Correct the Record” (CTR) was a $9 million operation working by the admission of founder and chair David Brock “under the thumb” of the Hillary Clinton campaign for president in 2016. Despite the FEC career staff attorneys’ conclusion that CTR’s scheme likely violated the law and recommendation that the agency pursue the matter, the two Republican commissioners recently voted to let the Clinton campaign and super PAC off the hook.
“Unless the court intervenes, the FEC’s inaction has paved the way for 2020 presidential candidates on both sides of the aisle to break the law,” said Trevor Potter, president of CLC, and a former Republican Chairman of the FEC. “The Republican commissioners today are opposed to the campaign finance and disclosure laws they are supposed to enforce, and as a result, the FEC rarely pursues violators, allowing political operatives to ignore the rules without consequence.”
An outside organization can only legally raise unlimited donations to support a candidate’s campaign if it is completely independent of that campaign. But CTR disregarded these rules, declaring that it would coordinate a wide range of expensive activities, including polling, video production and opposition research, with the Clinton campaign. CLC filed a complaint asking the FEC to investigate in October 2016, which the agency dismissed earlier this year. The law gives complainants the right to sue the FEC if the dismissal was contrary to law.
“Allowing candidates to outsource millions in campaign operations to billionaire-funded super PACs further entrenches the power of wealthy donors over our democracy,” said Tara Malloy, senior director, appellate litigation and strategy at CLC. “Campaign finance laws are supposed to limit the influence of money on our politics and ensure public disclosure of campaign spending, and we need the FEC to do its job and enforce those laws.”
*Tara Malloy, Megan McAllen, Maggie Christ and Urja Mittal also worked on this legal action for CLC.