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Democratic National Committee v. FEC (96-2506)


On February 20, 1997, with the agreement of both parties, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed this case without prejudice and ordered the FEC to periodically update the Democratic National Committee (DNC) on the status of an administrative complaint it filed against Bob Dole's 1996 presidential campaign.

In June 1996, the DNC filed an administrative complaint with the Commission alleging that Mr. Dole's presidential committee, Dole for President, Inc., disregarded the limit on expenditures during the pre-primary season. The administrative complaint was designated Matter Under Review (MUR) 4382. Under the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account Act, presidential candidates may receive matching payments for their primary campaigns if they agree to limit their expenditures to a set amount-in this case, a little more than $37 million. 2 U.S.C. §441a(b)(1)(A).

After no apparent action had taken place on the complaint, the DNC, on October 31, 1996, filed suit asking the court to order the FEC to move forward on its allegations against the Dole campaign. The DNC said that in failing to act on its complaint within 120 days after it was filed-the original administrative complaint was filed June 12 and a supplemental complaint was filed on July 22-the FEC was acting contrary to law. 2 U.S.C. §437g(a)(8)(A).

The court said that the FEC should give lawyers for the DNC confidential, updated chronologies on the Commission's actions in MUR 4382. The first was to be delivered at the end of March 1997 with subsequent chronologies presented at 12-month intervals until the matter was resolved or there was further court action.

The contents of the chronologies may not be disclosed to anyone not involved in the administrative complaint. Additionally, DNC counsel may use the information only in preparation for litigation that may result from the MUR. To ensure that there is no unauthorized dissemination of the chronologies, DNC counsel must inform in writing each person who sees the information that it may not be shared with others. The DNC must maintain a list of those people, what information they have seen and a written statement from each person acknowledging that he or she understands the confidentiality provisions that are part of this court action.

Source:   FEC Record — May 1997