Hearn v. FEC
On July 10, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted the FEC’s motion to dismiss this case, finding that Ms. Hearn lacked standing to bring the suit. The court complaint filed by Gloria Hearn sought judicial review of two final determinations by the FEC that Ms. Hearn’s campaign committee and its treasurer failed to file timely disclosure reports.
Commission regulations require House campaign committees, among others, to file all reports and statements electronically if their total contributions or total expenditures exceed, or are expected to exceed, $50,000 in a calendar year. 2 U.S.C. §434(a)(11)(A)(i); 11 CFR 104.18(a)(1)(ii). Reports filed on paper do not satisfy the filing obligations for these committees. 11 CFR 104.18(a)(2).
On October 5, 2007, Ms. Hearn, a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2006 election, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana challenging two administrative fines the Commission levied against her campaign committee and its treasurer for failure to file disclosure reports. In her complaint, Ms. Hearn alleged that her campaign committee filed paper copies of the reports on time, then re-filed the reports electronically after the Commission informed the committee that it should have filed electronically. According to the complaint, the Commission imposed fines of $5,000 and $3,500 for the two violations.
The plaintiff asked the court to waive the administrative fines imposed by the Commission.
The FEC made its final determinations and imposed civil penalties on Ms. Hearn’s campaign committee and the committee’s treasurer, not on Ms. Hearn herself. Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, only a person against whom an adverse determination was made may request judicial review of an FEC determination. 2 U.S.C. §437g(a)(4)(C)(iii). As a result, the court found that Ms. Hearn lacked statutory standing to ask the district court to review the FEC’s actions. The court granted the FEC’s motion to dismiss and dismissed the case without prejudice.