FEC Should Decisively Reject Request to Allow Soft Money Solicitations by Federal Officeholders, Candidates and Party Officials: Statement of Paul S. Ryan, FEC Program Director


Coming on the heels of an announcement by James Bopp, a member of the Republican National Committee, that he is establishing a new Republican Super Pac and will be asking party officials and candidates to solicit for it, comes the news that two Democratic Super PACs have filed an Advisory Opinion Request with the FEC seeking confirmation that such solicitations are permissible.  The FEC should do its duty and make very clear that candidate and party solicitations of unlimited amounts of individual funds, and solicitations of corporate and labor funds in any amount, constitute a violation of federal law (specifically of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) .


While some credit should be given to the Democratic groups for seeking an advisory opinion from the FEC, the request itself is every bit as outrageous as the plan that came to light earlier this week from Bopp’s group that publicly stated that an advisory opinion was neither needed nor wanted.  However, now that the FEC has formally been asked for its opinion, it has no legal option but to clearly and forcefully advise that the proposed solicitations by federal candidates and party officials of unlimited individual funds and corporate and union contributions would be completely illegal.

There has been some speculation that the two political parties expect a three-three tie on this issue at the FEC, thereby resulting in a deadlock and a statutory inability to render any formal opinion.  Relying on an FEC deadlock would be a fatal mistake for federal officeholders and parties: such a tie means the FEC has been unable to render advice, and ONLY an FEC Advisory opinion approved by a majority of the Commission can be used as a legal “shield” against charges of violations of federal election law. Accordingly, covered officials violating the law by soliciting soft money would find than an FEC deadlock provided no cover at all; in the past, the FEC has been required by court order to proceed with enforcement action after a 3-3 tie in an Advisory Opinion.

To see a point-by-point breakdown of the myriad violations of the law proposed by both the Democratic and Republican Super PACs, see the statement of May 17, 2011 concerning the formation of the “Republican Super PAC” by members of the Republican National Committee, click here.