End Citizens United and Campaign Legal Center Action File Lawsuit Against the FEC After No Action Taken on Trump Campaign’s Illegal Coordination with Super PAC

WASHINGTON - Today, Campaign Legal Center Action (CLCA) and End Citizens United (ECU) sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) over the Commission’s lack of action on former President Donald Trump’s campaign’s violation of campaign finance law. 

In May 2019, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and End Citizens United (ECU) filed a complaint with the FEC to hold President Donald Trump accountable for coordinating with a super PAC that would go on to raise $150 million in the 2020 election cycle. Although the FEC’s General Counsel recommended finding that there was reason to believe the Trump campaign had violated the law, the Commission deadlocked 3-2 and closed the case. Four votes are required for the FEC to act on a complaint. 

End Citizens United is now filing a lawsuit challenging the decision of the two FEC commissioners who voted to dismiss its complaint and is asking the court to direct the FEC to take action to determine whether the Trump campaign unlawfully solicited contributions to America First Action.

This is another example of the gridlock at the FEC undermining its ability to enforce anti-corruption campaign finance laws and why we need to enact the For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1) to reform the FEC. The For the People Act would restructure the FEC, making it a more effective watchdog that enforces the law. It would also put in tougher rules to prevent corporate-funded Super PACs like America First Action from operating as campaign arms for politicians.  

“We should not have to sue the FEC repeatedly to make it do its job,” said Adav Noti, Senior Director of Trial Litigation and Chief of Staff at CLC Action, and former Associate General Counsel of the FEC. “Yet here is another example of the FEC refusing to enforce key laws that protect the rights of American voters. We are confident the courts will once again force the FEC to act, but ultimately Congress must pass the For the People Act to overhaul the FEC and permanently break its cycle of lawlessness.”

“Throughout his disastrous presidency, Donald Trump showed a blatant disrespect for the laws of this country–it is why he was the first president in American history to be impeached twice. This case is no different. By declaring America First Action as his campaign’s approved outside group - alongside his own campaign and party committees--Donald Trump broke campaign finance laws restricting coordination between candidates and Super PACs,” said ECU/LAV President Tiffany Muller. “This incident further highlights glaring breakdowns in our campaign finance system and why there’s an immediate need for the anti-corruption provisions in the For the People Act.”

Federal law and FEC regulations prohibit campaigns from soliciting contributions to super PACs unless certain critical measures are taken to ensure that the solicited contributions comply with federal contribution limits and prohibitions. The Trump campaign took no such measures in its solicitation, instead issuing a blanket endorsement of contributions to the “approved” super PAC – contributions that would include corporate and unlimited funds, which federal candidates are prohibited from soliciting. By not acting in this case, the FEC is showing, yet again, that it is not the effective watchdog this country needs.

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