political.law has filed more than a dozen Advisory Opinion Requests with the Federal Election Commission - one of the most prolific practices in the country - dedicated to advancing our clients speech and associational rights.
National Defense PAC
The National Defense PAC submitted an FEC Advisory Opinion Request seeking to establish a new bank account consistent with the Citizens United and SpeechNow cases to solicit unlimited “SuperPAC” contributions for Independent Expenditures without creating a new PAC, while still raising amount- and source-limited funds for candidate contributions. The FEC failed to issue an Advisory Opinion, and the PAC and its founder, Rear Admiral (Ret.) James J. Carey, filed suit in Carey et. al. v FEC and ultimately created the legal framework for Hybrid PACs and Carey Accounts.
Conservative Action Fund (bitcoins)
Conservative Action Fund PAC requested FEC guidance on receiving, valuing, retaining, selling, spending, and contributing Bitcoins received as contributions. Bitcoin is a digital currency that is transferable between users engaged in private economic transactions, the monetary value of which depends purely upon private actors who accept Bitcoins as currency; thus its value is constantly in flux. The FEC deadlocked 3-3 on this Advisory Opinion.
Shaun McCutcheon sought to contribute $1776 to a number of candidates, such that it would exceed the “aggregate limit” of $48,600 on individual contributions, and filed an Advisory Opinion Request with the FEC arguing that the aggregate limit was an unconstitutional restraint on his right to free speech. The FEC unanimously ruled that it did not have the power to decide the constitutionality of the Act, and Mr. McCutcheon must abide by the aggregate limits. This gave rise to the landmark Supreme Court case McCutcheon, et. al. v FEC.
Tea Party Leadership Fund II
(disclosure exemption for donors)
The Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC sought the ‘Socialist Workers Party’ exemption from dicslosing its contributors, based on more than 1400 pages of documented harassment of the Tea Party movement and its adherents, including unlawful IRS scrutiny when such groups applied for tax-exempt status, substantial “private” opprobrium from mainstream media outlets and powerful private interests, and public excoriation by almost every federally-elected Democrat. The FEC deadlocked 3-3 on this Advisory Opinion.
Tea Party Leadership Fund I
(restraints on grassroots speech)
The Tea Party Leadership Fund was a newly formed PAC that rapidly after its founding in May 2012. The PAC sought to exercise the same political speech rights – and make the same contributions to candidates in the run up to the 2012 elections – as any other long-established PAC. However, current law requires a PAC to have existed more than 6 months to ensure it is a bona-fide committee and not an individual or small group of individuals seeking to circumvent contribution limits, regardless of the tens of thousands of donors the PAC actually had. The FEC unanimously declined the PACs request, and litigation ensued.
(using FEC reported data)
PoliticalRefund.org sought guidance on limited communications with contributors to candidates. PoliticalRefund.org notifies contributors to candidates of their right to request refunds in ight of candidates' dramatically shifting positions or scandals. PoliticalRefund.org sought to use publicly available FEC data to engage in one time contact with contributors to inform them of their right to ask for a refund, though there is no requirement a refund be made, and help them to do so. The FEC unanimously approved this Advisory Opinion.