On December 2, 2020, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia reversed its previous decision by concluding that Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and Catherine Hinckley Kelley (together, Plaintiffs) do not have standing to bring this suit under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). The court requested further briefing from all parties on the Plaintiffs’ Administrative Procedures Act (APA) claim.
Plaintiffs filed suit against the Commission on August 2, 2019, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for the dismissal of their administrative complaint against Correct the Record (CTR) and Hillary for America (HFA, collectively, Defendants). The administrative complaint had alleged that CTR made, and Hillary for America accepted, unreported excessive and prohibited contributions in the form of coordinated expenditures.
The Commission was unable, by the required four affirmative votes, to defend itself in this lawsuit. The Court then allowed CTR and HFA to intervene as defendants. The Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that Plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. This motion was rejected, and the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment concerning alleged violations of the FECA and the APA.
The Defendants contend that the Plaintiffs alleged informational injury is insufficient to confer standing because the details of CTR's expenditures are already public record. The precedents cited by the Defendants and the Court state that an "informational injury" cannot occur when the information sought is already required to be disclosed elsewhere and reported in some form. Thus, Plaintiffs have no cognizable interest in a further "legal determination" from the FEC that the expenditures were coordinated with HFA.
The Court noted that it is immaterial that the FEC has not conducted a further investigation, as an information-injury inquiry turns on the nature of the information that would be revealed, and no further information would be uncovered by additional investigation. The Court concluded that because of this, the Plaintiffs do not have standing to bring a FECA claim, and therefore dismissed that claim. The Court held in abeyance the motions for summary judgment based on the APA claim, requesting further briefing from both parties on the question of Plaintiffs independent standing with regard to their APA claim.
- CLC v. FEC (19-2336) litigation page