Legal Center Press Releases
Press Releases
July 23, 2014 - Senate Urged to Pass DISCLOSE Act to Combat Growing Crisis of Dark Money In Our Elections

Today the Campaign Legal Center strongly warned against the growing threat of Dark Money to our democracy and provided testimony to the Senate Rules Committee that the DISCLOSE ACT would provide the disclosure called for by the U.S. Supreme Court in a number of recent campaign finance rulings.  In a statement submitted into the record of today’s hearing “The DISCLOSE Act (S.2516) and the Need for Expanded Disclosure of Funds Raised and Spent to Influence Federal Elections” Legal Center President Trevor Potter and Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert condemned the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) “blatant override of Congressional intent” in the rules issued by the Commission to implement the disclosure requirements of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

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July 17, 2014 - Watchdogs File FCC Complaints Against TV Stations that Failed to Properly ID Political Ad Sponsors

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation filed complaints at the Federal Communications Commission against two television stations that incorrectly identified front groups as the “true sponsors” of political advertisements, when they were in fact paid for by one individual. The complainants are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center.

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July 10, 2014 - Florida’s 2012 Congressional Redistricting Ruled Unconstitutional by Florida Circuit Court

Earlier today, Judge Terry P. Lewis of the Second Judicial Circuit Court of Florida found that the Florida Legislature violated the state constitution when it redrew its congressional boundaries. Voters in Florida overwhelmingly supported amending the Florida Constitution in 2012 to bar the Legislature from intentionally favoring or disfavoring a political party or an incumbent.  Today, Judge Lewis found a “group of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process” and that they did so “all with the intention of obtaining enacted maps for the State House and Senate and Congress that would favor the Republican Party.”  He further found that “[t]hey made a mockery of the Legislature’s proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting”.   Judge Lewis found that the Republican political consultants “obtain[ed] the necessary cooperation and collaboration” from the Legislative leaders, enabling them to “infiltrate and influence the Legislature[.]” As a result, Judge Lewis found, they managed “to taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent.”  

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July 2, 2014 - Second Circuit Turns Back Challenge to Vermont’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws & Contribution Limits

Today, in Vermont Right to Life Committee (VRLC) v. Sorrell, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the State of Vermont’s campaign finance disclosure law and the application of state contribution limits to a purported “independent” political committee.

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July 1, 2014 - Ninth Circuit Urged to Overturn Ruling that Ignored Precedent to Strike Down Montana Political Campaign Contribution Limits
 
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Common Cause, Justice at Stake and the League of Women Voters, filed an amici brief in Lair v. Motl urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to overturn a District Court ruling striking down Montana’s political campaign contribution limits.  The brief emphasizes that the District Court disregarded both Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent to overturn Montana’s limits on contributions to state candidates, including judges, from individuals and political parties.

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July 1, 2014 - House Ethics Committee Eliminates Required Disclosure of Privately Financed Travel by Members on Financial Forms

The House Ethics Committee has eliminated the requirement for House Members to disclose their privately financed travel on their financial disclosure forms, according to National Journal. The Committee made this change without any public announcement whatsoever, and when it was discovered yesterday the Committee Chair, Ranking Member and Committee staff refused to comment on the controversial move.

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June 25, 2014 - Voting Rights Amendment Act Hearing Begins Process of Repairing Damage Done by Supreme Court
 
Discriminatory voting changes recently implemented in two Texas communities were highlighted in a statement submitted by Campaign Legal Center Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert into the Senate Judiciary Committee record for today’s hearing on The Voting Rights Amendment Act (S.1945).  The discriminatory changes, which had previously been blocked as a result of the special provisions of the Voting Rights Act, were implemented in two Texas jurisdictions after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the preclearance coverage formula in Shelby County v. Holder.  The Court’s decision in Shelby County left communities with a history of discrimination free to implement voting change without clearing them in advance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) or the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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June 24, 2013 - Reform Groups Urge Senate to Enact DISCLOSE Act to Close Gaping Disclosure Loopholes Used to Hide Donors
 
Reform groups issued a statement today expressing strong support for the DISCLOSE Act of 2014 introduced today by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) with 49 cosponsors. The DISCLOSE Act would ensure that that voters know the identity of donors who have been secretly financing campaign expenditures in federal elections.

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June 20, 2014 - Democratic Governors Association Drops Challenge to Connecticut’s Post-Citizens United Campaign Finance Reforms
Legal Center & Connecticut Watchdogs Briefs Backed Reforms

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has withdrawn its challenge to Connecticut’s campaign finance laws enacted in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC.  The Campaign Legal Center, joined by three Connecticut watchdog groups, had filed amici briefs in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut urging the court to reject the DGA’s attempt to have much of the organization’s election related activity to be declared outside of  Connecticut’s campaign finance laws. The DGA dropped its challenge after the court rejected its attempt to obtain a preliminary injunction against enforcement of key provisions of the law, finding DGA was unlikely to prevail on its claims.

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June 17, 2014 - Groups Concerned About Judicial Integrity Urge Ninth Circuit to Rehear Case Striking Down Judicial Campaign Laws

Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center joined with other nonprofit groups concerned with the integrity of the courts in filing an amici curiae brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review en banc Wolfson v. Concannon, in which a three-judge circuit panel struck down Arizona rules for judicial conduct as applied to non-judge candidates, but left those rules standing for incumbent judicial candidates.

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June 16, 2014 - Watchdogs Call on Senate Ethics Committee to Open Ethics Process and Create Outside Investigative Office

Today, the Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen urged the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to make its process of ethics investigations more transparent and more accountable.  In a letter to Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Ranking Member Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the groups urged the creation of an independent ethics investigative office similar to the Office of Congressional Ethics Office (OCE) in the House.  In the short term, the watchdogs urged the Committee to undertake a variety of other reforms to improve the ethics process, increase transparency and help to restore public trust in the process.

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June 10, 2014 - Federal Court Denies Injunction to Democratic Governors Association, Partially Dismisses Challenge to Connecticut’s Post-Citizens United Reforms

Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut denied the Democratic Governors Association’s (DGA) request for a preliminary injunction and partially dismissed the DGA’s challenge to a number of the State of Connecticut’s post-Citizens United campaign finance reforms.  The DGA was seeking to make unlimited “independent” expenditures in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s candidacy while at the same time having Governor Malloy fundraise for the DGA outside of Connecticut’s contribution limits and source prohibitions, and in many cases without disclosure.

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June 9, 2014 - Legal Center, Connecticut Watchdogs, File Supplemental Brief in Defense of State’s Post-Citizens United Campaign Finance Reforms 

On Friday, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by three Connecticut watchdog groups, filed a supplemental amici brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut urging the court to reject an attempt by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to broaden the scope of its recently filed challenge to Connecticut’s campaign finance laws. DGA initially sought to bar the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) from considering Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy’s fundraising activities for the DGA if questions arise as to whether the DGA’s expenditures for Governor Malloy’s reelection were truly independent of his campaign. Now, the DGA seeks to reinvent its case as a broad attack on all of the rules applicable to organizations whose major purpose is election or defeat of candidates in Connecticut.

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June 4, 2014 -  State of Delaware Appeals Decision Enjoining Application of State Disclosure Law

On June 2, the State of Delaware filed its opening brief with the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, urging the reversal of a lower court decision that preliminarily enjoined Delaware’s disclosure law as applied to a nonprofit group, Delaware Strong Families (DSF). The case, Delaware Strong Families v. Biden, involves a constitutional challenge to Delaware's new electioneering communications law.

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May 20, 2014 -  Ninth Circuit Upholds California Disclosure Laws in Prop 8 Case

Today, in ProtectMarriage.com v. Bowen, the Ninth Circuit rejected a constitutional challenge to disclosure requirements in California’s Political Reform Act that require state ballot measure committees to identify their campaign contributors above a $100 reporting threshold.  The groups that brought the case—which raised and spent tens of millions of dollars in 2008 in support of Proposition 8, a successful statewide ballot initiative that has since been invalidated— sought to overturn these disclosure requirements as unconstitutional, both facially and as applied to them, on the basis of claimed “harassment” directed at their campaign donors.  The Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s determination that the laws are facially valid but did not reach the merits of the as-applied claims, finding instead that the intervening disclosure of the groups’ contributors rendered their appeal non-justiciable.

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May 19, 2014 - Supreme Court Turns Down Challenge to FEC’s PAC Disclosure Requirements 

Today, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Free Speech v. FEC, letting stand a decision by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold FEC rules and policies relating to the determination of “political committee” status and, by extension, the registration and reporting requirements applicable to such committees.

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May 16, 2014 - Legal Center Opposes True the Vote’s Attempted Late Entry into Texas Voter I.D. Challenge

On May 16, 2014, the Campaign Legal Center filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit an opposition to a motion by the organization True the Vote (“TTV”) to expedite its appeal or, in the alternative, to stay the voter ID case in the district court while it pursues its appeal..  On December 11, 2013, TTV was denied intervention as a defendant in the consolidated lawsuits (Veasey v. Perry, No. 2:13-cv-193) challenging Texas’s new voter identification law.  The district court found that TTV did not have a particularized interest that the litigation threatens to impair or impede, and that TTV’s generalized interests in the issues will be adequately represented by the State of Texas. 

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May 15, 2014 - Three-Judge Panel Disregards Precedent to Gut Wisconsin Political Disclosure Laws

On May 14, 2014, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated or narrowed multiple provisions of Wisconsin’s political disclosure law in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Barland.

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May 14, 2014 - Legal Center, Connecticut Watchdogs, File in Defense of State’s Post-Citizens United Campaign Finance Reforms 

Last night the Campaign Legal Center, joined by three Connecticut watchdog groups, filed an amici brief in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut urging the court to deny a request for preliminary injunction being sought by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) that would undermine the new campaign finance laws passed by the state in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.  The DGA seeks to make unlimited “independent” expenditures in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s candidacy while at the same time having Governor Malloy fundraise for the DGA – without having to abide by Connecticut’s contribution limits or source prohibitions, and in many cases without disclosure.

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May 9, 2014 - Voting Rights Institute in Washington Will Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers

The Campaign Legal Center’s latest Voting Rights Institute training takes place today in Washington, DC. At the session, co-hosted by American Constitution Society, practitioners and law students will be briefed on the skills necessary to enforce voting rights law.  Particular emphasis will be given to litigation to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.  

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May 6, 2014 -  Watchdog Groups Again Call on IRS to Deny Crossroads GPS Tax-Exempt Status as 501(c)(4) Group
Groups Send FEC General Counsel’s Report to IRS Finding Major Purpose of Crossroads was Federal Campaign Activity

In a letter sent today to the Internal Revenue Service the Campaign Legal Center joined Democracy 21 to again urge the IRS to deny the application filed by Crossroads GPS for tax exempt status as a section 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization.

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May 1, 2014 - Campaign Legal Center and Sunlight Foundation File FCC Complaints Against Broadcasters Nationwide for Failure to Disclose Required Information on Political Ads

            Today, the Campaign Legal Center and the Sunlight Foundation, represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center, filed complaints with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) against 11 broadcast television stations for failure to publicly disclose legally-required information about sponsors of political ads they aired this year.  Without this information, viewers are denied important information about the organizations and individuals seeking to influence their vote through these ads.

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April 10, 2014 - Watchdog Groups Challenge House Ways and Means Committee Letter Claiming IRS Pursuit of Crossroads GPS was Improper
Statement of Campaign Legal Center Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert and Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer

Yesterday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp sent a letter to the Justice Department stating that former IRS official Lois Lerner may have violated criminal statutes and asking the Department to act on the findings within the letter. 

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April 7, 2014 - FCC Takes Important Step for Transparency in Political Advertising

            Late Friday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a notice reminding all U.S. television broadcasters that as of July 1, 2014, they will be required to post their political files online in a Commission-hosted database.  Of vital importance in this requirement is the information it provides regarding political advertisers.  The Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition (PIPAC) has repeatedly urged the FCC to require this disclosure to increase transparency as required by statute.  The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has fought this move despite losing an effort to stay the requirement at the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2012.

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April 2, 2014 - SCOTUS McCutcheon v. FEC Decision: Statement of J. Gerald Hebert, Legal Center Executive Director

The Court today abandoned any pretense of respecting Supreme Court precedent or Congressional expertise on matters of campaign finance when it struck down longstanding federal limits on aggregate contributions to candidates, parties and PACs.  To reach this decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Court refused to follow its 1976 decision in Buckley v. Valeo, which upheld the predecessor version of the aggregate contribution limits.  Once again, the Roberts Court exhibits its complete ignorance of political realities, or worse, chose to ignore those realities, in striking down laws written by Congress, which is intimately aware of the political corruption that will likely ensue in the wake of this decision.

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March 27, 2014 - Atlanta, Georgia Hosts Latest Voting Rights Institute to Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers

The Campaign Legal Center’s latest Voting Rights Institute training will take place on Friday, March 28 in Atlanta, Georgia. At the session, co-hosted by American Constitution Society, practitioners and law students will learn the ins and outs of the enforcement of voting rights law.  Cases brought to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution will be a particular focus of the training.  

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March 27, 2014 - Watchdog Groups File FEC Complaints Against National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Senate Majority PAC
 
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed two separate complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against the National Republican Congressional Committee, a party committee that supports Republican candidates, and Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC that supports Democratic candidates.

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March 21, 2014 - Watchdog Groups Say Kentucky Opportunity Coalition is Violating Campaign Finance Law by Republishing McConnell Campaign Materials in its TV Ad to Support McConnell
Groups Call on 501(c)(4) Organization to Comply with Law and Stop Running Ads Using McConnell Campaign Footage

In a letter sent today to the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition (KOC) and the McConnell Senate Committee ’14, Democracy 21, joined by the Campaign Legal Center, called on KOC to stop running an ad that violates the federal campaign finance laws.

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March 18, 2014 - FEC Complaint Calls for Investigation of Possible Illegal Soft Money Solicitations by Vitter Super PAC

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed a complaint urging the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate possible illegal soft money solicitations for the Super PAC of Senator David Vitter (R-LA) in excess of federal contribution limits and from sources prohibited from contributing in federal elections.

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March 17, 2014 - Legal Center Warns Jasper, Texas that Proposed Annexations Could Lead to Violations of Voting Rights Act 

On March 14, the Campaign Legal Center informed officials from the City of Jasper, Texas that the annexations of predominantly white subdivisions, currently under consideration by the City, appear to violate Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.  

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March 13, 2014 - FEC Agrees with Campaign Legal Center that Former Rep. Towns Violated Ban on Personal Use of Campaign Funds

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reached a conciliation agreement with the campaign committee of former Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) concerning allegations that he illegally converted campaign funds to personal use based on a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in 2012.  As part of the agreement the campaign committee will pay a $5,000 fine and Mr. Towns, who retired in 2013, will reimburse the committee.  Media reports at the time the complaint was filed had indicated that the former Congressman’s wife, Gwen Towns, regularly utilized a vehicle leased by the campaign for a variety of noncampaign-related personal uses, including her daily commute to and from her place of employment.    

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March 10, 2014 - Delaware Attorney General Files Brief in Defense of State’s Campaign Finance Disclosure Laws

On March 7, the Delaware Attorney General filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware urging the Court to deny a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Plaintiff, Delaware Strong Families (DSF).  The case, Delaware Strong Families v. Biden, involves a constitutional challenge to campaign finance disclosure provisions associated with Delaware’s new electioneering communications law.

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March 5, 2014 - FEC Complaint Calls for Investigation of Possible Illegal Contributions & Coordination by Montana Congressional Candidate & Super PAC He Founded
 
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate possible illegal in-kind contributions and coordination between Montana congressional candidate Ryan Zinke and the Super PAC he formed and that now supports his candidacy. The complaint, based on published reports, points to the Special Forces for America’s (SOFA) use of photographs that appear to have come from the Zinke campaign in television advertisements aired in support of Zinke’s candidacy. SOFA has spent more than $50,000 distributing the pro-Zinke ads since Zinke launched his campaign in October.

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March 4, 2013 - Legal Center Defends Mississippi Disclosure Laws in 5th Circuit Filing

Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in defense of the State of Mississippi’s campaign finance disclosure laws.  The brief urges the Court of Appeals to overturn a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, which ruled that the individuals who brought the case would not have to reveal their spending or their funders as they promote the passage or defeat of state constitutional amendment ballot measures.”     

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March 3, 2014 - Former FEC General Counsel Larry Noble Joins Campaign Legal Center Along with New Legal Fellow & New Operations Manager

Today, the Campaign Legal Center welcomes former Federal Election Commission (FEC) General Counsel Larry Noble to its staff, along with Legal Fellow Catherine Hinckley Kelley and Operations Manager Kazi Jones.

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February 27, 2014 -Campaign Legal Center & Democracy 21 Join with Rep. Van Hollen to File IRS Comments Today Calling for Effective Definition of “Candidate-Related Campaign Activity” for 501(c)(4) Groups 
Urge IRS to Include Supreme Court Approved Standard in Definition to Ensure Coverage of Campaign Attack Ads Posing as “Issue Ads”

           The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 joined with Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) today to submit joint comments in an IRS rulemaking that called on the IRS to adopt a new definition of “campaign-related political activity” to replace the existing vague “facts and circumstances” test.   According to the comments, the new test should rely on clear and objective standards to define campaign activities by non-profit groups.

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February 27, 2014 - Comments Filed in IRS Rulemaking Seek Enforcement of Statutory Mandate That 501(c)(4) Groups Focus “Exclusively” on Social Welfare

            Public Citizen, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center joined with Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to submit joint comments today in an IRS rulemaking advocating new regulations to stop section 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups from engaging in campaign spending in violation of statutory limits on the activities in which they can permissibly engage.

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February 25, 2014 - Watchdogs Urge FEC to Uphold Mobile Phone Ad Disclaimer Requirements & Conduct Long Overdue Rulemaking

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, strongly urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to uphold federal disclaimer requirements for political advertisements on mobile phones and further pressed the agency to conduct a related rulemaking originally proposed by the FEC in 2011. The watchdog groups filed comments in response to the FEC’s draft Advisory Opinions 2013-18, produced in response to a request from Revolution Messaging LLC seeking an exemption from the disclaimer requirements.

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February 21, 2014 - Columbus, Ohio Site of Latest Voting Rights Institute to Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers 

The Campaign Legal Center’s latest Voting Rights Institute training takes place today in Columbus, Ohio to train the next generation of voting rights lawyers.  At the session, co-hosted by American Constitution Society, practitioners and law students will learn the ins and outs of the enforcement of voting rights law.  Cases brought to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution will be a particular focus of the training.  

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February 20, 2014 - Campaign Legal Center Receives MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative & Effective Institutions
$750,000 Award is One of Seven to Nonprofits Around the Globe 

The Campaign Legal Center is one of seven nonprofit organizations around the world to receive the 2014 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The Award, which was announced today, recognizes exceptional nonprofit organizations who have demonstrated creativity and impact, and invests in their long-term sustainability with sizable one-time grants. 

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February 10, 2014 - Minnesota Urged to Make Clear That Expenditures Made With Funds Raised By Candidates Are “Coordinated” Expenditures, Not “Independent” Expenditures
 
Today, the Campaign Legal Center urged the Minnesota Campaign Finance & Public Disclosure Board to approve an advisory opinion making clear that if a candidate solicits funds for an outside group, expenditures made by the group supporting such candidate will be deemed “coordinated” with the candidate, not “independent” from the candidate.  The nonpublic request, filed by attorneys on behalf of an anonymous client, asks whether a candidate’s fundraising of unlimited amounts from individuals and corporations for an independent expenditure committee would be “independent” of the committee’s later express advocacy efforts to elect that same candidate.
 

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