What Judge Howell Really Said in the Crossroads GPS Case

Alexandria, VA – A recent district court ruling held that a longstanding Federal Election Commission (FEC) disclosure regulation violated federal law. The case involved a complaint filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) against Crossroads GPS regarding the group’s “independent expenditures” – ads that urge the support or defeat of a candidate.

CREW now misrepresents the ruling, saying that it requires such groups to “disclose the identities of all contributors who gave more than $200 in a year.”

CREW did ask for that ruling, but the court refused. While CREW won a significant victory in the case, Judge Beryl A. Howell wrote that CREW’s view of the law’s disclosure requirements was “erroneous”, and explained that “only those donors contributing over [$200] for political purposes to influence any federal election are covered.”

She added that “the identities of contributors to [nonprofits] for ‘those organizations’ general programs’ need not be identified; only those non-trivial donors contributing to fund those organization’s political efforts in federal campaign and independent expenditure activities are required to be disclosed.”

The case is CREW v. FEC. More information is available here. The Institute’s full analysis of the district court’s ruling is available here.

About the Institute for Free Speech

The Institute for Free Speech is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that promotes and defends the First Amendment rights to freely speak, assemble, publish, and petition the government. Originally known as the Center for Competitive Politics, it was founded in 2005 by Bradley A. Smith, a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.