Update on CREW v. FEC: We’re back in court
After CREW’s landmark victory over the Federal Election Commission, the FEC failed to follow the judge’s orders, so we’re taking them back to court. US District Court Judge Christopher Cooper ruled in September that the FEC acted “contrary to law” by refusing to take action against a pair of dark money groups and gave them a deadline to act. The three Republican commissioners blocked action against one of the organizations and the FEC took no action at all in the case of the other group before the deadline passed, so once again we have to take legal action to force them to do their jobs.
The case revolves around clearly political ads aired by the American Action Network (AAN) and Americans for Job Security (AJS) which the FEC decided were not meant to influence an election. The judge wrote at the time that “it blinks reality to conclude that many of the ads considered by the Commissioners in this case were not designed to influence the election or defeat of a particular candidate.” The FEC, apparently, does not agree.
“It’s a shame we have to keep taking the FEC to court to make it do its job,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “You’d think that a judge’s order would be enough to force the agency to act, but unfortunately, three of the FEC’s commissioners seem to have a greater commitment to dark money than to following the law.”
The judge’s original ruling ordered the FEC to take a broader view of what constitutes a political ad when deciding whether a group is a “political committee” that must reveal its donors to the public. Nonetheless, the FEC crafted yet another indefensible and overly narrow approach to defend dark money groups, and a second order from the judge is needed to ensure transparency.
“The judge’s instructions to the FEC were clear,” Bookbinder said. “We’re now asking him to reaffirm those instructions and demand that the agency finally do what the law requires.”