The Federal Election Commission (FEC) violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)—the very law that established the agency, according to a lawsuit filed yesterday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).  The FEC improperly dismissed a complaint against Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove, Haley Barbour, Steven Law and Caleb Crosby, leading to the lawsuit.

In 2012, Rove’s Crossroads GPS, a “dark money” group that has supported political candidates, received a contribution of more than $3 million for the explicit purpose of supporting Josh Mandel’s US Senate race in Ohio, which it used on TV ads for that very purpose.  Despite admitting these facts, the group never disclosed the donor behind the contribution, nor the identities of other similar donors, a violation of FECA.  The FEC, however, refused to act.

“Voters have a vital interest in knowing the identities of those who pay for independent expenditures in support or opposition to federal candidates,”the complaint notes.  “The [Federal Election Campaign] Act imposed and continues to impose on Crossroads GPS the obligation to disclose the contributors behind its independent expenditures.”

CREW’s lawsuit against the FEC asks the court to throw out the Commission’s dismissal of claims against Crossroads GPS and those involved with it – the result of a 3-3 partisan split among Commissioners about whether to act in the case – and order the FEC to do the job its Commissioners were appointed to do.

“Between the FEC refusing to act in this case and the IRS granting Crossroads GPS non-profit status, the government has allowed Karl Rove and company to get away with entirely too much improper secret political activity,”said CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder.  “It is too bad that it takes outside groups like CREW to force the government to do its job.”