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Grover v. FEC


On May 21, 1996, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas granted the FEC's motion to dismiss this suit.


Henry C. Grover had filed the suit on January 16, 1996, claiming that the $1,000 limit on contributions from individuals and Congress's failure to pass laws to prevent "soft money"[1] from influencing federal elections were unconstitutional impediments to his primary campaign efforts. (Mr. Grover eventually lost the March 12 Texas Republican Senatorial primary.) He asserted that the $1,000 contribution limit and alleged "soft money laundering" (i.e., the redistribution of soft money raised by party committees to favored federal candidates) gave incumbent office holders such an overwhelming advantage that only independently wealthy challengers could run competitive campaigns against them.

Court decision

The court, however, dismissed the case based on the FEC's arguments that: (1) Mr. Grover's claim was moot since the primary was over and relief no longer available; (2) the contribution limits had already been upheld by the Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo; and (3) the "soft money" issues were political and therefore outside judicial authority. The court said: "It is Congress that passed the laws and it is Congress that must engage in any necessary repairs."


[1] "Soft money" refers to funds raised and spent outside the limits and prohibitions of federal election law, including money that exceeds federal limits and money from corporate and labor treasury funds. Soft money may not be used in connection with federal elections but may be used for other purposes, such as nonfederal elections (subject to state law).

Source:   FEC Record — July 1996.