Legal Center Press Releases
Press Releases
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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February 6, 2014 - Legal Center Files in Support Connecticut Agency Proposed Ruling on State’s Campaign Finance Laws 

Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center filed comments with Connecticut’s State Elections Enforcement Commission strongly supporting the agency’s Proposed Declaratory Ruling 2013-02 upholding a variety of state campaign finance laws. The proposed ruling was issued in response to a petition by Perkins Coie, an international law firm, on behalf of clients seeking clarification of the state’s campaign finance laws in the wake of Citizens United and other court decisions.

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January 31, 2014 - Groups Sue FEC, Call on Federal Court to Overturn Dismissal of Complaint Against Crossroads GPS
Watchdog Groups Said Crossroads GPS Should Be Registered as a Political Committee and Subject to Disclosure; FEC General Counsel and Half of Commission Agreed
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A court should overturn the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) dismissal of a complaint about the secretive political spending group Crossroads Grassroots Political Strategies (GPS), watchdog groups said in a lawsuit filed today against the commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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January 17, 2014 - Voting Rights Institute to Train New Generation of Voting Rights Lawyers Expanding Nationally

The Campaign Legal Center announced today that the Voting Rights Institute will expand to New York, Ohio and Georgia in the coming months to train the next generation of Voting Rights lawyers in the wake of the Supreme Court’s highly-controversial Shelby County decision striking down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.  Practitioners and law students will learn the ‘ins and outs’ of voting rights enforcement in the wake of the Court’s ruling, particularly cases brought to enforce Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, and the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution.  

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January 16, 2014 - Watchdogs to Sue FEC for Dismissal of Crossroads GPS Complaint
Republican Commissioners Ignored FEC General Counsel’s Clear-Cut Case Against 501(c)(4)
 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Campaign Legal Center and Public Citizen today announced plans to file suit against the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for its dismissal of a complaint against Crossroads GPS. The complaint stemmed from the group’s failure to register as a political committee and disclose its donors despite huge expenditures on political advertising in the 2010 election cycle.

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January 16, 2014 - Bipartisan Voting Rights Bill an Important First Step in Undoing Damage Done by Supreme Court in Shelby County: Statement of J. Gerald Hebert, Campaign Legal Center Executive Director

The Voting Rights Amendment Act of 2014, introduced today by a bipartisan coalition of Members of Congress, represents an important first step to restoring and protecting the rights of all Americans to vote and make their voices heard in elections. Though this bill, as drafted, has some troublesome provisions, particularly the language providing certain exemptions for voter ID laws that are found to be discriminatory, and though greater protections are still needed to protect all Americans against discriminatory voting practices, it is heartening to see quick and bipartisan action by Congress to address this important subject. We look forward in the days ahead to working with Members on both sides of the aisle to improve the legislation.

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January 6, 2014 - New Mexico Urged to Erect Bulwarks to Contribution Limits & Disclosure Laws in Wake of Court Ruling

On Friday, the Campaign Legal Center urged the State of New Mexico to proactively address likely fallout related to Citizens United after a federal appeals court on December 18 upheld a lower court ruling in Republican Party of New Mexico v. King striking down the state contribution limits for independent expenditure committees. In comments filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking, the Legal Center urged the state to address the issues of disclosure and coordination in particular in order to avoid some of the consequences suffered by other states and at the federal level.

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December 18, 2013 - Campaign Legal Center Names Second Rapoport Legal Fellow, Adds Staff Attorney

Today, the Campaign Legal Center announced Emma Simson as the recipient of the second Rapoport Legal Fellowship, and the hiring of Megan McAllen, the first Rapoport Fellow, as a staff attorney. The fellowship is made possible by a generous grant from the Bernard & Audre Rapoport Foundation. The one-year position is designed for recent law school graduates embarking on careers in campaign finance and election law.    

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December 9, 2013 - Reform Groups Urge Representatives to Vote No This Week on Latest Attempt by House Republican Leaders to Repeal, Not Fix, Presidential Public Financing System

In a letter sent today to the House of Representatives, reform groups urged House members to vote no on H.R. 2019, sponsored by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), which purports to provide for a 10-year pediatric research initiative and repeals the presidential public financing system.

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December 6, 2013 - Statement of the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 & Public Citizen on Withdrawal of Lawsuit Calling for New IRS Regulations on 501(c)(4) Groups and their Campaign Activities

Based on the IRS’s announcement last week that it is undertaking a rulemaking proceeding to address the problems arising from campaign activities by 501(c)(4) groups, U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen, Democracy 21, Public Citizen and the Campaign Legal Center today dismissed without prejudice the lawsuit they filed in federal court to obtain such a rulemaking proceeding.

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November 22, 2013 - Campaign Legal Center files brief in Texas voter photo ID case on behalf of minority voters 

Today, Texas voters who would be adversely impacted by the law, civil rights organizations, elected representatives and a Texas county filed a brief opposing the motion of Texas officials to dismiss the consolidated lawsuits against the state's voter photo ID law.  Several challenges (including one brought by the United States) have been brought against Texas’ voter photo ID law, which is the one of the most restrictive laws in the nation.  The cases have been consolidated in the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi. 

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November 21, 2013 - FEC Deadlock Means No Disclosure Exemption for Tea Party Group
 
Today, the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) failed to gain the disclosure exemption it sought from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) when the group’s request garnered the votes of only two Republican Commissioners. The votes on two draft advisory opinions ended in 3-2 deadlocks along party lines with newly sworn-in Republican Vice-Chairman Lee E. Goodman recusing himself.

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November 20, 2013 - Watchdogs Reiterate to FEC Before Vote that Tea Party Group Does Not Qualify for Disclosure Exemption Originating with NAACP in Jim Crow South

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed comments on two draft advisory opinions released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that will be voted on at the FEC’s public meeting tomorrow. The draft opinions have been issued in response to an advisory opinion request from the Tea Party Leadership Fund (TPLF) (AOR 2013-17), which is seeking a rarely-granted exemption from disclosure laws on the grounds that disclosure “would result in threats, harassment, or reprisals from government officials or private parties.” One draft to be considered by the FEC tomorrow would grant the exemption and the other would not.

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November 14, 2013 -  Campaign Legal Center & Democracy 21 Document Repeated Rejection by Courts of Attempted Legal Assault on Disclosure Laws in Letter to Members of Congress

In a letter sent today to members of the Senate and House, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 challenged the claims by disclosure opponents that campaign finance disclosure laws are unconstitutional violations of First Amendment free speech rights.

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October 18, 2013 - Watchdogs Urge FEC to Reject Tea Party Group Request for Donor Disclosure Exemption Originally Granted to NAACP in Jim Crow South

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed comments in response to a Federal Election Commission (FEC) Advisory Opinion Request (AOR) 2013-17 from the Tea Party Leadership Fund, an FEC-registered political committee, seeking an exemption from the federal law requirement that it disclose its donors based on its claim that doing so “would result in threats, harassment, or reprisals from government officials or private parties.”

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September 27, 2013 -  Legal Center Filing Urges Michigan to Properly Enforce State Law Disclosure Requirements in Judicial Elections
Filing in Support of Michigan State Bar’s Request for Declaratory Judgment from Michigan Secretary of State 

Today, the Campaign Legal Center filed in support of the State Bar of Michigan’s request that the State properly enforce Michigan Campaign Finance Act (MCFA) disclosure requirements in judicial elections. In comments filed in the proceeding, the Legal Center urged Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to reverse an erroneous 2004 interpretation of MCFA by her predecessor that significantly undermined the State disclosure provisions and led to rapid rise in undisclosed political spending in the state.

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September 13, 2013 - CLC Litigation Director to Co-Lead Course Giving Georgetown Law Students Hands-On Work on Pending Election Law Cases
Practicum to be led by J. Gerald Hebert of Legal Center & Paul Smith of Jenner & Block 

This semester, Georgetown University law students will have the opportunity for hands-on legal work on pending election law and voting rights cases through a practicum course for credit.  The election law class will be co-taught by Paul M. Smith, the Chair of Jenner & Block’s Appellate and Supreme Court Practice, and J. Gerald Hebert, the Campaign Legal Center’s Executive Director and Director of Litigation.

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September 13, 2013 - New Litigation Summary from CLC Describes Continuing Flood of Challenges to Campaign Finance Laws & Growing List of Voting Rights Cases

Ideological and interest group opponents of campaign finance regulation continue to flood the courts with cases challenging campaign finance laws at the federal, state and municipal levels.  McCutcheon v. FEC, a challenge to the federal aggregate contribution limits, will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this Term, with still more cases on the way up through the lower courts. At the same time, attempts to enact racially-discriminatory voting laws at the state level has generated a spike in voting rights cases, a situation exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision to strike down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. The Legal Center has released an updated summary of that litigation to facilitate the tracking of the long list of cases.

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September 3, 2013 - Contribution Limits Defended in Legal Center Brief in Illinois Liberty PAC v. Madigan

On Friday, the Campaign Legal Center, Chicago Appleseed and the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform (ICPR) filed an amici brief supporting the state of Illinois’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging various state law contribution limits. The brief was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Illinois Liberty PAC v. Madigan, with the assistance of local counsel and ICPR executive director David R. Melton and local counsel Thomas Rosenwein.

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August 26, 2013 - Public Interest Groups Urge FCC to Continue Improving Political Ad Transparency
 
Today, the Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition (PIPAC), whose members include the Benton Foundation, the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Free Press, the New America Foundation and the United Church of Christ Office of Communication Inc., along with the Sunlight Foundation, filed comments with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about the agency’s rules requiring broadcasters to post their political files online.

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August 23, 2013 - Texas Minority Voters File Amended Challenge to State’s Voter ID Law as Justice Department Enters Fray

Last night, Texas voters who would be adversely impacted by the law, civil rights organizations, elected representatives and a Texas county filed an amended challenge to Texas’ controversial voter ID law.  The amended complaint challenging the constitutionality of the law was filed in in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Corpus Christi on the same day the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its own challenge to the law known as Senate Bill 14 (“SB14”).  Both the amended complaint and the DOJ lawsuit include a request that the court order bail-in relief under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act.

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August 21, 2013 - Rep. Van Hollen and Watchdog Groups File Lawsuit Challenging Flawed IRS Regulations 

Today, Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), joined by the Campaign Legal Center, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, filed a lawsuit today in federal district court in Washington, D.C challenging the IRS regulations that govern eligibility for tax-exempt status as a section 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization.

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August 14, 2013 - Watchdogs File FEC Complaint Against Santorum Campaign for Illegally Directing Super PAC Contributions

Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), against Rick Santorum and campaign staffers for directing a donor to make a $1 million campaign contribution to a super PAC supporting Santorum’s 2012 presidential run.  Federal candidates and their staff are prohibited by the McCain-Feingold law’s “soft money” ban from directing more than $5,000 to a super PAC.

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