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  • FEC Record: Litigation

Kuhn for Congress v. FEC (District court)

December 19, 2014

On December 15, the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina dismissed Kuhn for Congress’s challenge to a civil penalty the Commission had assessed against it for failing to file a campaign disclosure report on time.

The court accepted the recommendation of a Magistrate Judge who found the Commission had reasonably calculated the $8,800 fine it levied and had afforded the plaintiff due process.


The Kuhn for Congress Committee, principal campaign committee for South Carolina Congressional candidate John Kuhn, failed to file the April Quarterly Report by April 15, 2013, as required by 52 U.S.C. § 30104(a)(4)(A). The Commission notified the campaign that it could face civil penalties, and subsequently voted to assess a fine. Absent reported campaign activity information on which to base the fine amount, the Commission used an established formula to estimate an appropriate fine amount, and notified the campaign and its treasurer. In that notification, the Commission explained how the committee could challenge the decision, but the campaign did not do so. When the campaign filed its report some four months late, on August 20, 2013, its reported activity exceeded the Commission’s estimate.

On January 6, 2014, Kuhn for Congress filed a petition for review, claiming the FEC’s actions violate the plaintiff’s constitutional rights to due process under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. The complaint contended that the penalty assessed by the FEC was unreasonable, and suggested that a fine of $300 would be a reasonable alternative.

Court decision

On October 8, 2014, Magistrate Judge Wallace Dixon recommended the district court dismiss the Kuhn for Congress suit. In his recommendation, the Magistrate Judge found the $8,800 civil penalty was reasonable and properly calculated pursuant to the Federal Election Campaign Act and Commission regulations. The recommendation also found the Commission afforded the campaign due process and the campaign failed to support its claims that the Commission fine infringed upon its Constitutional rights.

In its opinion, the district court concludes, “the Magistrate Judge fairly and accurately summarized the facts and applied the correct principles of law” in finding the plaintiff’s case to be without merit. The court adopted the Magistrate Judge’s recommendations and granted the Commission’s motion to dismiss the suit.

U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina: Case 2:13-cv-03337-PMD


  • Author 
    • Isaac Baker
    • Communications Specialist