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Reform Party of the USA v. John J. Gargan


On March 27, 2000, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, Lynchburg Division, resolved a Reform Party leadership dispute.

The court previously had ordered the Reform Party to transfer to the registry of the court approximately $2.5 million in public funds-funds that the Party had received to finance its 2000 Presidential nominating convention. Once the court determined the rightful leadership of the Party, the funds were to be returned to the Reform Party.

Court decision

In its decision, the court concluded that members of the National Committee of the Reform Party had duly removed John J. Gargan and Ronn Young as Party Chairman and Treasurer, respectively, at a Nashville, Tennessee, meeting on February 12, 2000. The members voted to replace them with Pat Choate and Tom McLaughlin as Interim Party Chairman and Treasurer, respectively. As a result, the court enjoined Mr. Gargan and Mr. Young from acting as officers or authorized representatives of the Reform Party, including its Convention Committee.

Having resolved the leadership dispute, the court ordered that the public funds for the Party's Presidential nominating convention should be released to Gerald Moan, the duly appointed Chairman of the Party's convention committee. Based on an amicus brief filed by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), which took no position on the leadership dispute, the court conditioned the release of the funds on the Party's written acknowledgment of its obligations to comply with the agreements it had filed with the FEC pursuant to 11 CFR 9008.3(a)(1). The court required the Party to deposit and maintain the public funds in an account registered with the FEC, and to notify the Commission of any changes to the information the Party provided in its original application for public funds.

The court also ordered Mr. Gargan and Mr. Young to turn over all documentation regarding convention funding and disbursements made by the Convention Committee (or on its behalf) to the Reform Party in anticipation of the required post-convention audit by the FEC.

On March 29, 2000, the court received the Party's written acknowledgment of its obligations, and the court subsequently released the public funds.

Mr. Gargan and Mr. Young appealed this case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

Source:   FEC RecordJuly 2000; April 2000. 89 F. Supp 2d 751 (W.D. Va. 2000)