Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) sued the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for failing to enforce its own regulations by refusing to investigate a 2012 CREW complaint against Murray Energy and its CEO Robert Murray for coercing employee donations and using corporate funds to make political contributions.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits employers from threatening employees to compel political contributions, in addition to laundering political contributions through these employees. The FEC’s own Office of General Counsel found reason to believe that potential violations may have occurred, but the commissioners once again deadlocked along party lines. This is the third time in the past year that CREW has been forced to sue the FEC to attempt to make the agency do its job.
“The FEC’s decision not to open an investigation into Murray Energy’s coercion of its employees to support the company’s politics is unacceptable,” said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder. “This was a clear example of a powerful corporation overstepping its authority and thinking it could operate above the law.”
FEC regulations specifically prohibit a PAC from making a contribution or expenditure by using money “secured by physical force, job discrimination, financial reprisals, or the threat of force, job discrimination, financial reprisals; … or other moneys required…as a condition of employment.”
“When employees’ jobs are at stake based on whether or not they contribute to the candidate of their employer’s choosing, their rights are being violated,” Bookbinder said. “The FEC needs to enforce its own rules.”