Watchdogs Urge FEC to Reject RNC & DNC Request to Open Soft Money Loophole for Convention Funds


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, strongly urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to reject the request from the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) seeking to undermine the existing federal limits on contributions to national political parties established in the wake of Watergate.  The watchdog groups filed comments on the FEC’s draft responses to Advisory Opinion Request 2014-12, where the national party committees seek permission to raise funds for party conventions under a separate contribution limit.

 In response to the Advisory Opinion Request filed by the RNC and the DNC, the FEC produced two alternative draft advisory opinions.  The comments filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 strongly support Draft A which concludes that raising convention funds under a separate limit is clearly prohibited by federal statute and under existing FEC regulations.  The comments strongly condemn Draft B’s assertion that convention committees can be considered separate “national committees” with their own contribution limits on the basis that this view is not only  contrary to the law, but is based on misrepresentations of previous rulings by the FEC. The comments go on to warn that such an advisory opinion from the FEC would lead to a proliferation of ‘separate’ national committees that could be utilized to skirt existing contribution limits on a massive scale.

“What the party committees are seeking is nothing short of permission to violate the laws passed by Congress.  Draft A recognizes this and correctly rejects it,” said Larry Noble, of the Campaign Legal Center.  “Draft B’s assertions are positively ludicrous and would amount to the FEC usurping the power of the legislative branch by arbitrarily handing out exemptions to the laws passed by Congress.  The FEC has a long and sad tradition of carving out loopholes in federal campaign finance laws but Draft B would represent a new low if passed by the commission.”

The RNC and DNC Advisory Opinion Request was filed after repealing the federal funding for national party conventions that had been in place for more than four decades as a part of the post-Watergate campaign finance reforms.   

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