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Kennedy for President v. FEC (81-2552)


On December 21, 1981, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a consent order resolving claims brought by the Kennedy campaign against the Commission in Kennedy for President Committee v. FEC (Civil Action No. 81-2552). The court dismissed with prejudice all other pending judicial claims between the Kennedy Committee and the Federal Election Commission.

Plaintiff's claims

In the suit, filed on October 21, 1981, the Kennedy Committee claimed that the FEC had violated the Government in the Sunshine Act (5 U.S.C. §552b) by:

  • Considering the final audit report on Senator Edward Kennedy's Presidential primary campaign in executive sessions, which are closed to the public; and
  • Failing to indicate in public notices announcing these executive sessions that the FEC would consider the Kennedy audit report. The Kennedy Committee had asked the district court to order the FEC to make available to the Kennedy campaign and the public a tape recording or written transcript (as well as any other documents) pertaining to the FEC's discussion of the audit report.

Resolution of claims

In the consent order, the FEC agreed to make available to plaintiff and the public portions of the transcript involving the FEC's consideration of the final Kennedy audit report at Commission meetings held on August 25 and 26 and September 15 and 16, 1981. The Commission also agreed to make available documents pertaining to those meetings. Both parties agreed, however, that the Commission could delete from these transcripts discussions related solely to FEC personnel matters, enforcement actions, litigation strategy and matters exempted from public disclosure by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Similarly, the parties agreed that portions of the documents pertaining to those meetings could be withheld pursuant to various exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act.

The consent order expressly conditioned release of the transcripts on the parties' compliance with the following requirements:

  • Within 15 days of the order, the FEC would make available an index of deletions in the transcripts and documents to be released. The Kennedy Committee could then object to any deletions in the transcript within 10 days of the index's release. Disputed deletions could not, however, delay release of the transcripts or documents.
  • Fifteen days after the Committee received the index, the FEC would make available copies of those portions of the transcripts and documents which the FEC determined were not exempt from disclosure.
  • Within 20 days of receiving the transcripts and documents, the Kennedy Committee would present to the Commission any objections to deletions in writing. The FEC, in turn, would notify the Committee of its final determination on any disputed deletions within 20 days.
  • The Kennedy Committee could ask the court to review any deletions still in dispute within 15 days of receiving the FEC's final determination on them. In reviewing such claims, the court would limit its consideration to whether the FEC had improperly withheld material from the transcripts.

Source:   FEC Record February 1982