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Lenora B. Fulani v. FEC (00-1018)


On January 3, 2002, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the Commission's motion to dismiss this case, finding that Dr. Fulani lacked standing to bring the lawsuit.


Dr. Fulani was a Presidential candidate in the 1988 and 1992 elections. In the summer of 1995, she planned to campaign against President Clinton in the 1996 Democratic primaries. However, in August of that year the Commission issued a repayment determination for approximately $612,000 against her 1992 Presidential campaign. Dr. Fulani alleged that as a result she lacked the financial resources to run in the 1996 elections. Dr. Fulani then filed a complaint with the Commission alleging, among other things, that President Clinton violated laws relating to primary spending limits. The Commission did not find reason to believe that the violations had occurred and closed the matter, Matter Under Review (MUR) 4713, in March 2000.

Court case

In her court complaint, Dr. Fulani alleged that the Commission's dismissal of MUR 4713 was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law. She argued that, based on the information developed by the Commission's General Counsel's office, there was both reason to believe and probable cause to believe that President Clinton, his primary campaign committee and the Democratic National Committee violated the Presidential Primary Payment Account Act. She asked the court to compel the Commission to act on the complaint.


In order to have standing to bring such a lawsuit, a plaintiff must demonstrate:

  • An injury in fact;
  • A causal connection between the injury and challenged conduct; and
  • A likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision of the court.

The plaintiff's injury must be "concrete and particularized," as well as "actual" or "imminent." Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992).


The court found that while Dr. Fulani did suffer a concrete injury when she was stopped from running for office, the Commission's failure to pursue her administrative complaint did not cause this injury. Dr. Fulani argued that the Commission's repayment determination caused her injury, but that determination was not before the court in this case. Moreover, the Commission's alleged failure to act on Dr. Fulani's administrative complaint occurred well after her failure to run for the Presidency in 1996. Finally, the court found that Dr. Fulani could not demonstrate how her alleged injury could be redressed by the court. The court granted the Commission's motion to dismiss the case.

Source:   FEC Record February 2003.