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FEC Record: Litigation

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Van Hollen v. FEC

On April 27, 2012, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order denying the intervenors’ motions for a stay pending appeal in Van Hollen v. FEC. This follows the Court’s grant of the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment in which the Court found that the FEC had no statutory authority to limit certain disclosure obligations under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

The lawsuit challenges 11 CFR § 104.20(c)(9), which requires corporations and labor organizations making electioneering communications to disclose donations of $1,000 or more that were “made for the purpose of furthering electioneering communications.” The lawsuit claims that the regulation is contrary to the disclosure regime of BCRA, which requires every person who makes electioneering communications to disclose “all contributors.” See 2 U.S.C. § 434(f)(1).

In denying the intervenors’ motions for a stay pending appeal, the Court determined that the intervenors did not demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits in the case, and that they failed to show that they will be irreparably harmed absent a stay. The Court pointed out that the Supreme Court expressly upheld BCRA’s electioneering communication disclosure requirements in Citizens United v. FEC, stating that the disclosure requirements “provide the electorate with information about the sources of election-related spending, and help citizens make informed choices in the political marketplace.” The Court also noted a public interest in denying the motions since “the public has a strong interest in the full disclosure mandated by the BCRA.” The intervenors have also sought a stay pending appeal from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Those motions are pending.

The full text of the Court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order may be found here: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/van_hollen_dc_denial_of_stay.pdf.

On April 26, the Commission filed a Notice informing the Court that it will not appeal the summary judgment order. Statements were issued by Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Donald F. McGahn and Matthew S. Petersen, and by Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub and Commissioner Cynthia L. Bauerly.

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia: Case 1:11-cv-00766-ABJ.

(Posted 5/4/12; By: Zainab Smith)

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The FEC Record is produced by the Information Division, Office of Communications. Toll free 800-424-9530; Local 202-694-1100; E-mail info@fec.gov. Greg Scott, Director; Amy Kort, Asst. Director; Myles Martin, Editor