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Hettinga v. FEC


Pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §437g(a)(8), on July 12, 1984, Mr. Ralph M. Hettinga sought injunctive relief against the FEC for failing to act on his administrative complaint within 120 days. The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. (Civil Action No. 84-2082) In the complaint filed with the FEC on March 6, 1984, Mr. Hettinga had alleged that eight unions had violated 2 U.S.C. §441b by making prohibited in-kind contributions to the Mondale Presidential campaign. The unions had allegedly provided telephone services and equipment and office space to the Mondale campaign at less than fair market value.

On July 24, 1984, the court issued an order requiring the FEC to submit information on its handling of Mr. Hettinga's complaint (i.e., a chronology of events with regard to the FEC's processing of the complaint). This submission, as well as all future submissions, was subject to a protective order issued by the court. By the terms of the protective order, plaintiff and defendant agreed that:

  • Plaintiff's counsel would share information or documents concerning the administrative complaint only with the plaintiff and his legal staff;
  • Plaintiff's counsel would explain the terms of the protective order to anyone with access to the information; and
  • All court filings pertaining to the complaint would be filed under seal.

Stating that it could not determine whether plaintiff had met the burden for injunctive relief until after the court had examined the FEC documents, the court denied plaintiff's motion for injunction, without prejudice.

On August 8, 1985, the court granted the FEC's motion to dismiss the suit and ordered the records unsealed.

Source:   FEC RecordSeptember 1984