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League of Women Voters v. FEC


The League of Women Voters of the United States (LWVUS) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against the FEC asking that the court declare null and void that portion of the Commission's Policy Statement on Presidential Debates issued August 30, 1976, which prohibited contributions from corporations and labor organizations to the League of Women Voters Education Fund (the Fund) for purposes of defraying expenses related to the 1976 televised Presidential debates between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, sponsored by the Fund. Such corporate and union contributions, the FEC had said in its statement, would be "in connection with" a federal election and would therefore be prohibited under the Act. The Policy Statement had expressed the Commission's view, however, that the Fund could accept funds from political action committees established by corporations or labor organizations to pay for the debates.

The Commission argued that the "court has no jurisdiction over this action because the Commission's policy statement is not a final agency action." The policy statement "expresses its view of what interpretation of the law it would seek to enforce..." and "...represents an attempt by the Commission to give informal advice in an unchartered area of the law."

The court denied the Commission's motion to dismiss, after which the Commission filed its answer to the original complaint.

Source:   FEC Annual Report 1977