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Glenn Presidential Committee v. FEC


On June 23, 1987, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed the FEC's final repayment determination of May 15, 1986, with respect to the John Glenn Presidential Committee, Inc. (the Committee), the principal campaign committee for Senator Glenn's publicly funded 1984 Presidential primary campaign (Civil Action No. 86-1348.)


The Committee had asked the appeals court to review the repayment determination, which found that the Committee had made nonqualified campaign expenses (amounting to $248,004.62) as a result of exceeding its spending limits for the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, and which required the Committee to repay $74,955.62 to the U.S. Treasury.[1]

The Committee had asserted that the state expenditure limits in 2 U.S.C. §441a(b)(1)(A) were unconstitutional. The Committee had also contested the FEC's determination in three specific areas, involving the FEC's allocation of the Committee's expenditures for telephone calls, public opinion polls, and buttons and bumper stickers.

Appeals court ruling

The court found no constitutional infirmity in the FEC's actions taken under 26 U.S.C. §9038(b)(2), the provision of the President Primary Matching Payment Account Act which authorizes the recoupment of federal funds. The court noted that 26 U.S.C. §9038(b) allows the recoupment of public monies only.

Regarding the FEC's application of its regulations concerning the allocation of expenditures in three specific areas, the court found that the FEC ruled rationally and had not abused its authority.


[1] The public funding statutes require Presidential primary candidates to repay the U.S. Treasury for nonqualified campaign expenses (26 U.S.C. §9038(b)(2)). Under the statute, spending in excess of the state-by-state spending limits is considered one type of nonqualified expense. When a campaign incurs nonqualified expenses, the campaign must repay that portion of the nonqualified expenses which represents public matching funds.

Source:   FEC Record September 1987. John Glenn Presidential Committee, Inc. v. FEC, 822 F.2d 1097 (D.C. Cir. 1987).