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Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (20-0809)

Summary

On March 24, 2020, Campaign Legal Center filed suit in the U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Commission’s alleged failure to act on its administrative complaint.

Background

The court complaint states that Campaign Legal Center (the plaintiff) filed an administrative complaint with the FEC on August 23, 2018, alleging that 45Committee, Inc., violated the Federal Election Campaign Act ("the Act") by failing to register as a political committee and file disclosure reports. Under the Act, a political committee is an organization that receives contributions or makes expenditures in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year for the purpose of influencing elections for federal office. In Buckley v. Valeo and subsequent cases, the Supreme Court has construed the definition of political committee to encompass only those organizations whose major purpose is federal campaign activity, or the nomination or election of federal candidates. According to the court complaint, 45Committee, a 501(c)(4) organization, spent over $22 million on independent expenditures and electioneering communications in 2016 supporting Donald Trump and opposing Hillary Clinton and Florida U. S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy. As a result, the plaintiff alleges that 45Committee’s major purpose is federal campaign activity and therefore the organization is required to register as a political committee and file disclosure reports. The plaintiff further alleges that the Commission has failed to act in a timely manner on its administrative complaint.

The Act provides complainants with a right of action against the FEC if the Commission fails to act on a complaint within 120 days. The plaintiff requests that the court declare that the FEC's failure to act on the administrative complaint is contrary to law and order the Commission to conform with the declaration within 30 days.

Source: FEC Record — April 2020.