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Brown v. FEC


On November 20, 1981, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a judgment affirming an earlier decision by the district court in Archie E. Brown v. FEC (Civil Action No. 80-2108). The district court's decision had upheld the FEC's dismissal of the complaint plaintiff had filed against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffers, and Warehousemen and Helpers of America (the Teamsters). In his complaint, plaintiff alleged that Local 745 of the Teamsters had violated 2 U.S.C. §441b(b)(3)(A) by attempting to coerce him to contribute to DRIVE (the Democratic Republican Independent Voter Education), the separate segregated fund of the Teamsters. Plaintiff alleged that he was subsequently denied membership in Local 745 because he had refused to contribute to, or join, DRIVE. Plaintiff claimed that the FEC's dismissal of his complaint was contrary to law.

In upholding the FEC's determination, the district court said that the General Counsel's Report to the Commission indicated that "...plaintiff's membership in Local 745 was denied because his union dues were unpaid, not because he refused to contribute to DRIVE." Moreover, the district court held that the General Counsel's Report, by itself, was a sufficient record for the court's review of the Commission's determination in the complaint. In appealing the district court's decision, plaintiff contended, however, that the General Counsel's Report alone, without a separate statement of the Commission's reasons for dismissing the complaint, afforded " inadequate basis for informed judicial review."

In its Memorandum affirming the district court's decision, the appeals court found no merit in plaintiff's assertion. The appeals court cited the Supreme Court's decision in FEC v. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which held that the General Counsel's Report constituted sufficient grounds to dismiss an administrative complaint-even if the Report were not expressly adopted by the Commission.

The appeals court concluded that the General Counsel's Report to the Commission recommending dismissal of Brown's complaint was sufficiently reasonable, "...particularly when considered in the context of the large discretion the Commission has to determine whether or not a civil violation of the Act has occurred."

Source: FEC RecordJanuary 1982. Brown v. FEC (D.D.C. July 17, 1980) (unpublished opinion), aff'd mem., 672 F.2d 893 (D.C. Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 457 U.S. 1111 (1982).