Sarah Lee, Communications Director
The Center for Competitive Politics
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) client, The National Defense PAC (NDPAC), was recently awarded a motion to stay discovery in its challenge to prevent the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from subjecting it to a burdensome investigation.
Joining CCP as co-counsel in this effort were Dan Backer of DB Capitol Strategies, Benjamin Barr, and Stephen Hoersting.
The decision prevents the FEC from examining NDPAC’s documents, deposing its executives, or otherwise engaging in an unwarranted investigation of its lawful activities. Further, NDPAC will be saved the substantial costs – in time, attorneys’ fees, and disruption – that such an investigation inevitably entails.
CCP Legal Director Allen Dickerson noted that the decision has a positive effect on the speech rights of grassroots organizations involved in political fundraising. “The FEC’s regulations disproportionately affect small, grassroots organizations that cannot afford to be buried in administrative paperwork or lawyers’ fees,” he said. “This decision helps ensure that when Americans must vindicate their First Amendment rights in court, they can do so without first being subjected to a lengthy and ultimately irrelevant government audit.”
DC federal district court judge Rosemary Collyer took just one paragraph to explain her decision, deferring to the 2010 Citizens United decision that “[t]he First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney… before discussing the most salient political issues of our day.” The FEC regulations created real costs for small, grassroots political committees. The district court’s decision helps ensure that where “the issues in [a] case are matters of constitutional law already established by the Supreme Court,” those same groups can bring cost-effective lawsuits to ensure their right to speak.
As a result of a prior injunction in the case, NDPAC will continue to be allowed to accept both hard- and soft- money contributions so long as they are kept in segregated accounts.