By Peter Overby
Chief Judge Beryl Howell, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, threw out a regulation adopted by the Federal Election Commission in 1980. The rule said that “non-political” groups, such as 501(c) nonprofit organizations, could ignore a disclosure law if donors’ contributions were not earmarked for specific advertisements – an exception that wasn’t in the law passed by Congress.
Howell’s decision was issued Friday evening.
She listed ways in which the regulation undercut the transparency principles of campaign finance law: “including informing the electorate, deterring corruption, and enforcing bans on foreign contributions being used to buy access and influence to American political officials.” …
It also leaves question marks for 501(c) groups active in the midterm elections, using money raised under the old rules.
“The thing I’d be most concerned about is protecting the donors who gave in good faith,” said David Keating, president of the conservative Institute for Free Speech.
Howell set a 45-day deadline for the FEC to replace the invalid regulation. FEC commissioners had no comment Monday on how they would respond and whether they would seek to appeal the ruling. An appeal is considered unlikely because it would require all four votes on the commission, a six-member panel with two vacancies…
CREW’s lawsuit focused on FEC treatment of spending by the 501(c)(4) group Crossroads GPS, and Crossroads intervened as a defendant. Spokesman Chris Pack said Monday evening, “This was wrongly decided and we will proceed accordingly after reviewing an array of legal options.”