Watchdogs Criticize FEC for Disregarding Public Comment Period, File Comments on Tea Party Leadership Fund Advisory Opinion Request


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed comments criticizing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for scheduling consideration of Advisory Opinion Request (AOR) 2012-32 at a meeting tomorrow, before the statutorily-required 10-day public comment period ends Friday. Furthermore, regarding the substance of the AOR, the Legal Center argues that the Commission has no authority to grant the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) request that the Commission declare a statute unconstitutional.

The AOR, filed by TPLF and federal candidates John Raese and Shawn Bielat, asks that the FEC cease enforcement of the statutory requirement that a committee be in existence at least six months in order to attain multicandidate political committee status and become eligible to make larger contributions to candidates. TPLF has already given each candidate $2,500, the maximum contribution allowed from standard political committees to candidates, but asks the FEC to waive the “six months in existence” requirement for multicandidate committee status, which would enable TPLF to contribute an additional $2,500 to each candidate.

“The request itself acknowledges that the statute preventing evasion of candidate contribution limits has been upheld by the Supreme Court, but nevertheless asks the Commission to exceed its authority by declaring the statute unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable,” said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel. “Formally considering this request before the end of the comment period shows a complete disrespect for the public comment process required by law and actually rendering an opinion within the comment period would in fact violate the law.”

The comments urged the Commission not only to reject the request but to prepare to defend the law in court against an expected challenge by the requestors.

To read the comments filed today by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, click here.