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  • FEC Record: Litigation

Appeals court reverses judgment in End Citizens United PAC v. FEC (22-5176)

July 12, 2023

On June 9, 2023, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed a district court decision that dismissed a suit brought by End Citizens United PAC (plaintiff) against the Commission.


In May 2019, plaintiff filed an administrative complaint, alleging that Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. (Trump Campaign) violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) by soliciting and directing funds to America First Action, a Super PAC, without regard to the Act’s source prohibitions and contribution limits.

On April 20, 2021, after a vote to find reason to believe that the Trump Campaign violated the Act failed to secure the necessary four votes, the Commission closed the file.

On April 18, 2022, the district court dismissed the suit, holding that since the controlling Commissioners relied on prosecutorial discretion as a basis for voting against reason to believe, the dismissal was not subject to judicial review. Lacking the authority to review the dismissal, the court denied the plaintiff’s motion for default judgment and dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

The plaintiff appealed the court’s decision contending that the Commission acted contrary to law in dismissing its complaint in absence of the timely explanation required by circuit court precedent.


Citing that precedent, the appeals court noted that the controlling Commissioners “were obligated to issue a contemporaneous statement ‘explaining their votes,’ which the court would treat as the Commission’s reason for the dismissal.” The appeals court concluded that the district court erred by relying on a non-contemporaneous explanation. Guided as well by Supreme Court precedent, the appeals court reversed the district court’s judgment and instructed the lower court to remand the case to the Commission for further action, consistent with its opinion.


  • Author 
    • Don Michael
    • Communications Specialist