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  • FEC Record: Litigation

Wisconsin Family Action v. FEC challenges independent expenditure disclosure requirements (21-1373)

December 17, 2021

On December 2, 2021, Wisconsin Family Action (WFA), a 501(c)(4) non-profit, non-stock corporation, filed suit against the Commission. The complaint alleges that the Commission’s interpretation of Section 30104(c) of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) violates the First Amendment rights of speech, association, and assembly by requiring public disclosure of private associations.

Background

Under the Act and the Commission regulations, “contribution” is defined as a gift of anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office. An independent expenditure is an expenditure by a person for a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate and that is not coordinated with a federal candidate or political party.

Pursuant to Section 30104(c)(1), persons other than political committees (“non-political committees”) whose independent expenditures aggregate in excess of $250 in a calendar year must report those expenditures to the Commission, together with the identification of each person who makes contributions in excess of $200 within a calendar year. Section 30104(c)(2) requires that those reports must, among other things, identify each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 for the purpose of furthering an independent expenditure.

Complaint

WFA’s complaint alleges that the Commission has unlawfully expanded contributor disclosure requirements in its interpretation of Section 30104(c) by requiring disclosure of contributions for nonpolitical and issue advocacy purposes. WFA argues that the disclosure requirements are broad and violate its First Amendment rights to speech and assembly. Based on its mission, WFA further argues that its freedom to associate with its supporters would be significantly damaged if it could not maintain the privacy of their relationship. WFA also asserts that Section 30104(c) is unconstitutional as beyond the power of Congress to enact.

WFA seeks a declaratory judgment that 52 U.S.C. § 30104(c)(1) and (2) are unconstitutional and a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the Commission from enforcing these provisions against them.

Resources

  • Author 
    • Mary Ann Baker
    • Communications Specialist