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Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (20-0809)

Summary

On April 21, 2022, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (the court) found that the Commission failed to comply with the court’s order to act on an administrative complaint filed by Campaign Legal Center (the plaintiff). As a result, the plaintiff may file suit to enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) against the alleged violator.

Background

On March 24, 2020, the plaintiff filed suit alleging that the Commission had failed to act on its August 21, 2018, administrative complaint against 45Committee, Inc. On November 8, 2021, the court found that the Commission’s failure to act on the plaintiff’s administrative complaint was contrary to law and ordered the Commission to act on the complaint within 30 days. The plaintiff filed a motion on December 9, 2021, seeking an order declaring that the Commission had failed to comply with the court’s order. On January 4, 2022, the court granted leave for 45Committee, Inc., to file an amicus brief.

Analysis

45Committee, Inc. argued in its amicus brief that documents obtained from the Commission through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request show that the Commission “reviewed, considered, and took action” on the administrative complaint nearly two years ago. However, the court found that the documents provide no such evidence. The court determined that the Commission did not comply with its November 8, 2021, order within the time specified, and granted the plaintiff’s motion. Under the Act, complainants may file suit to enforce the Act when the court declares that the Commission’s dismissal or failure to act on an administrative complaint is contrary to law and the Commission fails to correct the illegality. As a result, the court ordered that the plaintiff may bring a civil action to enforce the Act against 45Committee, Inc.

Source: FEC RecordApril 2022; November 2021; April 2020