CLC Update September 9, 2011

  1. FEC and DOJ Asked to Investigate More “Straw Companies”
  2. Summary Judgment Brief Filed in Van Hollen Suit
  3. Reform Groups Call for Action on Legislation
  4. FEC Program Director Speaks at Conference on “Public Financing After Citizens United and Arizona Free Enterprise Club


FEC and DOJ Asked to Investigate More “Straw Companies” Making Million Dollar Contributions to Romney-linked “Super PAC”

On August 11th, the Campaign Legal Center, with Democracy 21, urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate more possible violations of campaign finance law by companies that appear to have been utilized to hide the identity of $1 million contributors to Restore Our Future, a Super PAC operated by former Mitt Romney campaign staffers.

The complaint to the FEC and letters to DOJ request that the agencies formally investigate the activities of the F8 LLC and Eli Publishing L.C. for possible violations of the ban on making contributions in the name of another and for failing to organize and register as a political committee.  The activities outlined in media reports paint a picture of companies used to hide the identities of the actual donors seeking to curry favor with a candidate running for the highest office in the land.

Paul S. Ryan, FEC Program Director at the Campaign Legal Center stated, “Existing laws must be enforced to give citizens a fighting chance of knowing who or what is spending millions of dollars in an attempt to influence their vote and to curry favor with elected officials.”

To read the FEC complaints, click here and here.

To read the letters to the Department of Justice, click here and here.

To read the full press release click here.


Summary Judgment Brief Filed in Van Hollen Suit Against FEC’s Ineffective Disclosure Rule

On August 30, 2011, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) filed a brief in his ongoing legal challenge to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulation that has improperly narrowed the scope of the McCain-Feingold law’s disclosure requirements.

FEC Program Director and Associate Legal Counsel Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center stated, “The 2010 congressional elections made painfully clear that the rule created a massive loophole that savvy campaign operators have exploited to deny voters important information about who’s contributing millions to influence their votes.  And without quick court action, this loophole will be exploited to spend hundreds of millions of dollars from anonymous sources in the 2012 elections.”

Rep. Van Hollen challenges this FEC regulation as arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law under the Administrative Procedures Act.  The Legal Center is part of Representative Van Hollen’s pro bono legal team, led by Roger Witten of the law firm WilmerHale and Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21.

To read the full Summary Judgment filed, click here. 

To read further Legal Center commentary on the disclosure problems in the 2010 elections, click here.


Reform Groups Call for Action on Legislation to Allow Prosecutors to Combat Public Corruption

On September 7, the Legal Center and other reform groups urged a House Judiciary subcommittee to hold hearings on the “Clean Up Government Act of 2011” (H.R. 2572), legislation that would provide critically needed amendments to the federal criminal statutes to hold public officials accountable for a broad range of corrupt practices.

The letter to Representatives F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. (R-WI) and Robert C. Scott (D-VA), the Chair and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security, emphasizes the critical need for updates to these statutes in the wake of a series of court decisions that have drastically undermined prosecutors’ ability to address a broad swath of public corruption.

The organizations signing the letter included the Campaign Legal Center, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Democracy 21, Public Citizen, Project on Government Oversight (POGO) and U.S. PIRG.

To read the full letter click here.


FEC Program Director Speaks at Conference on “Public Financing After Citizens United and Arizona Free Enterprise Club

On September 9 Legal Center FEC Program Director Paul S. Ryan spoke at a conference in Arlington, Virginia on “Public Financing After Citizens United and Arizona Free Enterprise Club,” convened by Common Cause, Public Campaign, Americans for Campaign Reform and the Brennan Center.  Ryan spoke on a panel regarding the “State of the Law After Arizona Free Enterprise Club” and explained the birth of Super PACs, as well as the legal and policy implications flowing from Super PAC activity in publicly-financed elections.  Joining Ryan on the panel were Brenda Wright of DEMOS, Adam Skaggs of the Brennan Center and Arn Pearson of Common Cause.