August 14, 2014 - Watchdog Groups Call on IRS to Adopt New Rules on Timely Basis to Prevent Tax Laws from Being Misused to Hide Donors Financing Campaign Activities in 2016 Elections
In a letter sent today to the IRS, Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center summarized comments they had submitted regarding the ongoing IRS rulemaking proceeding to consider new regulations to govern eligibility for section 501(c)(4) tax status.
August 8, 2014 - Seventh Circuit Urged to Overturn Ruling Which Ignored Precedent to Halt Wisconsin Investigation of Coordinated Spending with Gov. Walkerâ€™s Campaign
Judgeâ€™s Error-Riddled Ruling Also Ordered Prosecutors to Destroy Evidence
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed an amici brief
urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to reverse a district court order that halted an investigation into allegations of illegal coordination between the campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and ostensibly â€śindependent outside groups.â€ť The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Randa in Oâ€™Keefe v. Chisholm additionally ordered prosecutors to destroy evidence gathered in the case tying the Governor and his campaign to outside groups, including Wisconsin Club for Growth. The brief filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 focuses entirely on the flawed First Amendment argument utilized by the Judge to enjoin the investigation.
August 7, 2014 - FCC Launches Rulemaking in Response to Watchdog Petition
Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a rulemaking to expand online political file requirements to cable satellite and radio. The action came in response to a petition filed last week by the Campaign Legal Center, the Sunlight Foundation, and Common Cause. The FCC notice requests public comment on the organizationsâ€™ petition to extend cable and satellite providers the requirement to post their public files online that now cover broadcasters. In recent years, the amount of political advertising on these other outlets has jumped significantly and is expected to grow even more.
August 5, 2014 - Fifth Circuit Denies True the Voteâ€™s Attempted Late Entry into Texas Voter I.D. Challenge
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied the effort by the organization True the Vote (â€śTTVâ€ť) to intervene in the Texas voter photo ID case. True the Vote sought to intervene to defend the discriminatory law. The trial court had denied intervention last year and True the Vote appealed the denial to the Fifth Circuit. The Campaign Legal Center serves as counsel to the lead plaintiffs challenging the law in the district court and had filed an opposition in the Fifth Circuit to stay the voter ID lawsuit.
July 31, 2014 - Watchdogs Call On FCC to Extend Online Political File Requirements to Cable and Satellite Systems
The Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation called on the Federal Communications Commission today to extend to cable and satellite systems the requirement that their political files be posted on the FCCâ€™s online database. The petitioners are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center.
July 31, 2014 - Groups Seek Summary Judgment Against FEC for Dismissal of Crossroads GPS Complaint
FEC General Counselâ€™s Findings & Recommendations to Investigate Ignored
Late yesterday, reform groups asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to declare unlawful the dismissal of a complaint against the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The motion for summary judgment
stems from the FECâ€™s failure to investigate Crossroads GPS for not registering as a political committee. The FEC Office of General Counsel had strongly recommended that the agency investigate in the face of evidence against the group but the Commission deadlocked along party lines leading to the dismissal of the complaint.
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 todayâ€™s hearing â€śThe DISCLOSE Act (S.2516) and the Need for Expanded Disclosure of Funds Raised and Spent to Influence Federal Electionsâ€ť Legal Center President Trevor Potter and Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert condemned the Federal Election Commissionâ€™s (FEC) â€śblatant override of Congressional intentâ€ť in the rules issued by the Commission to implement the disclosure requirements of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
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 â€śtrue sponsorsâ€ť 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.
July 10, 2014 - Floridaâ€™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 â€śgroup of Republican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting processâ€ť and that they did so â€śall with the intention of obtaining enacted maps for the State House and Senate and Congress that would favor the Republican Party.â€ť He further found that â€ś[t]hey made a mockery of the Legislatureâ€™s proclaimed transparent and open process of redistrictingâ€ť. Judge Lewis found that the Republican political consultants â€śobtain[ed] the necessary cooperation and collaborationâ€ť from the Legislative leaders, enabling them to â€śinfiltrate and influence the Legislature[.]â€ť As a result, Judge Lewis found, they managed â€śto taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent.â€ť
July 2, 2014 - Second Circuit Turns Back Challenge to Vermontâ€™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 Vermontâ€™s campaign finance disclosure law and the application of state contribution limits to a purported â€śindependentâ€ť political committee.
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 Montanaâ€™s political campaign contribution limits. The brief emphasizes that the District Court disregarded both Ninth Circuit and Supreme Court precedent to overturn Montanaâ€™s limits on contributions to state candidates, including judges, from individuals and political parties.
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.
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 todayâ€™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 Courtâ€™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.
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.
June 20, 2014 - Democratic Governors Association Drops Challenge to Connecticutâ€™s Post-Citizens United Campaign Finance Reforms
Legal Center & Connecticut Watchdogs Briefs Backed Reforms
The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) has withdrawn its challenge to Connecticutâ€™s campaign finance laws enacted in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Courtâ€™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 DGAâ€™s attempt to have much of the organizationâ€™s election related activity to be declared outside of Connecticutâ€™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.
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.
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.
June 10, 2014 - Federal Court Denies Injunction to Democratic Governors Association, Partially Dismisses Challenge to Connecticutâ€™s Post-Citizens United Reforms
Today, the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut denied the Democratic Governors Associationâ€™s (DGA) request for a preliminary injunction and partially dismissed the DGAâ€™s challenge to a number of the State of Connecticutâ€™s post-Citizens United campaign finance reforms. The DGA was seeking to make unlimited â€śindependentâ€ť expenditures in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloyâ€™s candidacy while at the same time having Governor Malloy fundraise for the DGA outside of Connecticutâ€™s contribution limits and source prohibitions, and in many cases without disclosure.
June 9, 2014 - Legal Center, Connecticut Watchdogs, File Supplemental Brief in Defense of Stateâ€™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 Connecticutâ€™s campaign finance laws. DGA initially sought to bar the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) from considering Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloyâ€™s fundraising activities for the DGA if questions arise as to whether the DGAâ€™s expenditures for Governor Malloyâ€™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.
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 Delawareâ€™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.
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 Californiaâ€™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 caseâ€”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 invalidatedâ€” sought to overturn these disclosure requirements as unconstitutional, both facially and as applied to them, on the basis of claimed â€śharassmentâ€ť directed at their campaign donors. The Court of Appeals upheld the district courtâ€™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 groupsâ€™ contributors rendered their appeal non-justiciable.
May 19, 2014 - Supreme Court Turns Down Challenge to FECâ€™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 â€śpolitical committeeâ€ť status and, by extension, the registration and reporting requirements applicable to such committees.
May 16, 2014 - Legal Center Opposes True the Voteâ€™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 (â€śTTVâ€ť) 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 Texasâ€™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 TTVâ€™s generalized interests in the issues will be adequately represented by the State of Texas.
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 Wisconsinâ€™s political disclosure law in Wisconsin Right to Life v. Barland.
May 14, 2014 - Legal Center, Connecticut Watchdogs, File in Defense of Stateâ€™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 Courtâ€™s Citizens United decision. The DGA seeks to make unlimited â€śindependentâ€ť expenditures in support of Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloyâ€™s candidacy while at the same time having Governor Malloy fundraise for the DGA â€“ without having to abide by Connecticutâ€™s contribution limits or source prohibitions, and in many cases without disclosure.
May 9, 2014 - Voting Rights Institute in Washington Will Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers
The Campaign Legal Centerâ€™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.
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 Counselâ€™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) â€śsocial welfareâ€ť organization.
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.
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.
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.
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.
March 27, 2014 - Atlanta, Georgia Hosts Latest Voting Rights Institute to Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers
The Campaign Legal Centerâ€™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.
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.
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 â€™14, Democracy 21, joined by the Campaign Legal Center, called on KOC to stop running an ad that violates the federal campaign finance laws.
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.
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.
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 Congressmanâ€™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.
March 10, 2014 - Delaware Attorney General Files Brief in Defense of Stateâ€™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 Delawareâ€™s new electioneering communications law.
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 Americaâ€™s (SOFA) use of photographs that appear to have come from the Zinke campaign in television advertisements aired in support of Zinkeâ€™s candidacy. SOFA has spent more than $50,000 distributing the pro-Zinke ads since Zinke launched his campaign in October.
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 Mississippiâ€™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.â€ť