FEC Urged to Require Registration for Obvious Political Committee in Filing by Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21


The Campaign Legal Center, together with Democracy 21, filed comments today with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), urging the Commission to advise the organization ‘Free Speech’ that if it engages in its proposed activities it will have no choice but to register and report as a political committee.

As the comments filed by the Legal Center and Democracy 21 point out, the Free Speech request (AOR 2012-11) is absurd in light of the laws passed by Congress and upheld by the courts:

Notwithstanding Free Speech’s claims to the contrary, it is clear from the fact that every one of its proposed ads and solicitations is focused on federal candidates and elections (with many containing “magic words” express advocacy), Free Speech clearly has the “major purpose” of influencing federal elections.

Any group that has the major purpose of influencing federal elections that spends more than $1,000 disseminating the type of express candidate advocacy ads that Free Speech plans to air must register with the FEC as a “political committee.”

“The Free Speech request spells out textbook activities of a political committee and then asks the FEC to essentially ignore the law and allow the group to avoid registering and reporting as a political committee,” said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center FEC Program Director.  “This is an open and shut case and the commissioners have no choice but to inform Free Speech that it cannot lawfully undertake the activities it proposes without registering and reporting as a political committee.”

“There is little question that Free Speech should be required to register and report as a political committee,” according to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer.  “No reasonable person could conclude that its ads are anything other than campaign ads that contain express advocacy.  Given that its major purpose is to influence elections, it meets all of the standards for political committee status.”

To read the comments, click here.