During February and March 2007, Barry Bialek, Jon Marcus and Jack and Renee Beam filed separate, but substantially similar complaints with district courts in Colorado, Arizona and Northern Illinois, respectively, alleging that the Commission violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) by “tacitly cooperating and conspiring with” Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to circumvent the Act.
These cases are related to the Fieger v. Gonzales case currently pending in the Eastern District of Michigan, in which Geoffrey Fieger alleges that the Act grants the Commission exclusive jurisdiction over criminal violations and bars the Department of Justice from conducting any grand jury investigations unless and until the Commission makes a referral. See March 2007 Record.
The plaintiffs made contributions to John Edwards’ 2004 presidential campaign. According to the complaints, the plaintiffs are being investigated by the Department of Justice for violations of the Act. Mr. Bialek was summoned before a grand jury in November 2006 and Mr. Marcus was summoned before a grand jury in October 2006.
The plaintiffs assert that by giving “exclusive jurisdiction” over the Act to the Commission, Congress determined that no criminal investigation can take place unless the Commission has formally referred the criminal matters to the Attorney General. The plaintiffs claim that the Attorney General’s investigations are unlawful and unconstitutional since the Commission did not refer the plaintiffs’ alleged violations to the Attorney General.
In addition to those allegations, the Beam plaintiffs allege that Attorney Gonzales intentionally interfered with the Commission’s investigation and that the Commission’s failure to conduct its own investigation violates the Act and the Administrative Procedures Act.
The Bialek and Marcus complaints seek a declaration that the defendants’ actions are unlawful and the award of costs and attorneys’ fees. In addition to this relief, the Beam complaint asks the court to declare the that the Commission has failed to uphold the Act and to issue a Writ of Mandamus requiring the Commission to conduct its own investigation into the matter prior to any investigation by the Attorney General.
Bialek v. Gonzales, U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, 07-CV-00321-WYD-PAL.
Marcus v. Gonzales, U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, CV070398-PCT-EHC.
Beam v. Gonzales, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, 07CV1227.