Today, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission in federal district court in Washington, DC, challenging an FEC regulation that has improperly narrowed the scope of McCain-Feingold law disclosure requirements and allowed nonprofit 501(c)(4) advocacy groups, 501(c)(6) business associations, and others to spend millions on “electioneering communication” while keeping secret the donors whose funds are used to pay for the ads.
Representative Van Hollen also filed a petition at the FEC today requesting that the Commission conduct an expedited rulemaking to revise and amend an existing FEC “independent expenditure” disclosure regulation that has similarly allowed groups to millions of dollars in “independent expenditures” while keeping secret the donors whose funds are used to pay for the ads.
The Campaign Legal Center is part of Representative Van Hollen’s pro bono legal team, led by Roger Witten of the law firm WilmerHale and Fred Wertheimer of Democracy 21.
“In 2007, the FEC gutted McCain-Feingold disclosure requirements in a little-noticed rulemaking,” according to J. Gerry Hebert, Executive Director of the Campaign Legal Center. “The flood of corporate political spending unleashed by the Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United made clear the impact of 2007 FEC regulation changes as untold millions of corporate dollars were funneled through the Chamber of Commerce and other groups to avoid disclosure of the source of the funds,” Hebert stated.
“Without effective action to close the disclosure loophole opened by the FEC, the American people will continue to remain in the dark about tens of millions of dollars being provided by corporations and others to buy influence over government decisions,” Hebert said.