Watchdogs File Comments in Post-McCutcheon FEC Rulemaking

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed rulemaking comments urging the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to follow the Supreme Court’s recommendations in McCutcheon v. FEC to prevent corruption of candidates and circumvention of the base contribution limits after the court struck down the aggregate cap on contributions.  The watchdog groups pressed the FEC to strengthen and enforce regulations cited by the Court as preventing corruption, covering disclosure, earmarking, affiliation and joint fundraising committees, and also to close regulatory loopholes regarding coordination and the new party accounts created by the omnibus appropriations bill passed last month.

“The Supreme Court was very clear in stating that base contribution limits serve a vital government interest by preventing corruption of public officials and went on to cite FEC rules that ensure those limits are not circumvented,” said Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel.  “Unfortunately, the Court didn’t realize that the FEC hasn’t been enforcing some of the rules, and other rules cited by the Court are riddled with loopholes.  The FEC must fix and enforce the corruption-preventing rules cited by the Court.  Additionally, the Commission should strengthen the coordination rules and issue rules for the new party accounts slipped into the omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the last Congress.”

In December, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill that included a completely unrelated amendment to the Federal Election Campaign Act to raise the contribution limit to party committees exponentially for specific activities, but its language is broad and ripe for abuse.  The outstanding coordination issues relate to extensive cooperation between candidates and outside groups that is allowed by the current ineffective coordination regulations—at odds with recent Supreme Court decisions promising that outside group spending would be totally independent of candidates.

The comments filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 offer very specific recommendations to the FEC on effective implementation of new and existing regulations in order to prevent widespread circumvention of the base contribution limits and to properly regulate outside groups and party committee spending in keeping with the laws passed by Congress. 

Both the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 requested an opportunity to testify at the FEC’s February 11 hearing on the matter.

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