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Gelman v. FEC (80-1646)


On July 22, 1980, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion affirming the FEC's determination that Lyndon H. LaRouche had failed to reestablish his eligibility for primary matching funds in the Democratic Presidential primary held in Michigan on May 20, 1980. In its May 28, 1980, ruling, the Commission found that Mr. LaRouche had failed to receive at least 20 percent of all votes cast for Democratic contenders in the Presidential primary, the minimal amount necessary to reestablish eligibility.


Felice M. Gelman and Citizens for LaRouche, Inc. had filed a petition on June 11, 1980, contending that the Commission should have applied the definition of "candidate" provided by 26 U.S.C. §9033(2) in determining whether Mr. LaRouche had re-established his eligibility for primary matching funds. That provision stipulates that, for purposes of establishing initial eligibility for primary matching funds, a Presidential primary candidate must be "actively conducting campaigns in more than one State." In calculating total votes in the Michigan Democratic primary, Mr. LaRouche argued, this definition of "candidate" would have excluded votes cast for a candidate who had ceased to campaign actively in more than one state and votes cast for "uncommitted" delegates (i.e., those not pledged to any specific candidate). The FEC argued that the provisions of 26 U.S.C. §9033(c)(4)(B) required the Commission to count total votes cast for all Presidential primary candidates in a particular primary including all votes cast for inactive or write-in candidates or "uncommitted" delegates.

In upholding the FEC's method of determining Mr. LaRouche's re-eligibility for primary matching funds, the court maintained "...petitioners' narrow focus on the word 'candidate', to the exclusion of the phrase within which that word appears, results in a strained and artificial construction that is at odds with the Act's underlying concern that federal matching funds should go only to those candidates who have demonstrated at least minimal public support for their candidacies."

Source:   FEC Record September 1980. Gelman v. FEC, 631 F.2d 939 (D.C. Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 876 (1980).