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CREW v. FEC (22-3281)

Summary

On October 27, 2022, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW or plaintiff) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Commission’s dismissal of its administrative complaint against American Action Network (AAN).

Background

On June 7, 2012, CREW filed a complaint with the FEC alleging AAN violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) by failing to register as a political committee based on independent expenditures and electioneering communications it produced between June 23, 2009, and June 30, 2011.

On June 24, 2014, the Commission failed by a 3-3 vote to find reason to believe that AAN violated the Act and dismissed CREW’s complaint. CREW challenged that dismissal and on September 19, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted CREW’s motion for summary judgment and remanded for reconsideration within 30 days.

On October 18, 2016, the Commission failed by a 3-3 vote to find reason to believe AAN violated the Act and voted 5-1 to close the file. CREW sought judicial review and on March 20, 2018, a district court judge remanded the matter to the Commission and ordered it to conform with the judgment within 30 days. On May 10, 2018, the Commission, by a 3-1 vote, was unable to find reason to believe that AAN violated the Act, and on August 29, 2022, voted to dismiss the remanded complaint against AAN.

Among other things, the plaintiff asks the court to:

  • declare that a group’s electioneering communications constitute federal election activity and may demonstrate a group’s major purpose is to influence federal elections;
  • declare the major purpose test compares a group’s federal campaign activity to its other spending in that same calendar year to determine its major purpose;
  • declare the FEC’s dismissal of MUR 6589R (AAN) on remand was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law; and
  • order the FEC to conform to such declaration within 30 days.

Documents

District Court (DC)

Court decisions:

Related documents: