On December 8, 2022, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to the Campaign Legal Center and Catherine Hinckley Kelley (plaintiffs). Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the Commission for the dismissal of their administrative complaint against Correct the Record (CTR) and Hillary for America (HFA).
The administrative complaint, filed on October 6, 2016, alleged that CTR and HFA engaged in an illegal multimillion-dollar coordination scheme. On June 4, 2019, the Commission voted to dismiss the complaint, and plaintiffs filed suit to challenge that dismissal on August 2, 2019. The plaintiffs alleged that the Commission’s nonenforcement deprived them of information to which they were entitled under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) as well as a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) and asked the court to declare the dismissal contrary to law and to remand the matter to the Commission for reconsideration. When the Commission did not appear to defend the suit, HFA and CTR intervened as defendants and moved to dismiss the complaint. The Court granted summary judgment against the plaintiffs in two separate rulings and dismissed the case. The first decision found that the plaintiffs lacked standing to claim an informational injury because the legal determination of coordination was not “informational.” The second dismissed the APA claim.
On April 19, 2022, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the district court’s dismissal as to informational injury under FECA, finding that the determination of whether certain campaign spending is legally categorized as coordinated does indeed qualify as additional “factual information.”
On remand, the district court found that the controlling analysis in the Commission’s dismissal of the administrative complaint was contrary to examples and reasoning the Commission itself had offered when promulgating the applicable regulations. As such, the dismissal was contrary to law. The court further stated that there was ample evidence of coordination that the Commission failed to consider, illustrating that the dismissal was arbitrary and capricious.
Because the Commission's decision was based on an impermissible interpretation of FECA and was otherwise arbitrary and capricious, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion
- CLC v. FEC (19-2336) litigation page