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Carey v FEC
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. When the FEC failed to issue an Advisory Opinion, the PAC and its founder, Rear Admiral (Ret.) James J. Carey, filed suit. The FEC lost a motion for preliminary injunction and settled the suit in Carey’s favor, creating the legal framework for Hybrid PACs and Carey Accounts.
Combat Veterans For Congress PAC v FEC (Treasurer liability)
Combat Veterans for Congress PAC was fined for late-filing of 3 FEC reports in 2010, which the PAC argued was a result of the knowing, willful, and reckless conduct of its then-Treasurer. The FEC, rather than following the statute, regulations, and every published comment on the matter that clearly intends to hold Treasurer personally liable in such circumstances. While pending, the PAC discovered rampant irregularities with FEC voting practices that became central to the case, which was argued before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on February 5, 2015. The court ruled in favor of the government.
Tea Party Leadership Fund v FEC
(restraints on grassroots speech)
The Tea Party Leadership Fund PAC, based on AOR 2012-32, and others sued the FEC to challenge the 6-month registration period for multicandidate PAC status. A PAC that has been registered for 6 months, received contributions from more than 50 people, and contributed to at least 5 candidates may contribute up to $5,000 per candidate; otherwise it may only contribute up to the individual limit, then $2,500. Plaintiffs argued First Amendment violation creates an unconstitutional waiting period on full speech rights and does not prevent actual, or apparent, quid pro quo corruption as required for speech restraints. The case was ultimately withdrawn.
Stop REID PAC v FEC
(restraints on grassroots speech)
Stop REID PAC and others sued the FEC to challenge arbitrary changes in contribution limits for PACs based on how long they have been registered with the FEC as infringing on speech and associational rights and violating the Fifth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. Plaintiffs argue that these differing limits, both lower and higher, on a PACs' contributions to candidates and parties based on how long a PAC has registered are unconstitutional because they are overbroad, not closely tailored to furthering any important government interest, nor do they prevent actual, or apparent, quid quo pro corruption. The court ruled in favor of the government.
McCutcheon, et. al. v FEC
(striking aggregate limits)
A landmark Supreme Court case, arising from AOR 2012-14, that struck down aggregate limits on the total amount an individual may contribute, within the per-recipient base limits, over a two year election cycle to all federal candidates, parties and PACs combined. The Court largely adopted Plaintiffs arguments in ruling for McCutcheon, recognizing that aggregate limits were an unconstitutional Prophylaxis upon prophylaxis that did nothing to prevent actual, or apparent, quid pro quo corruption.
Stop Hillary PAC v FEC
(FEC action on enforcement)
Stop Hillary PAC sued the FEC over its failure to act on the PACs complaint against Ready For Hillary PAC and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Based on the widely publicized use by Ready for Hillary of a Clinton-owned email file, Stop Hillary PAC filed a complaint January 2014 that Ready for Hillary acted with Clinton’s authorization to draft Clinton for President, an act that makes Ready for Hillary an campaign committee subject to different contribution limits and disclosure requirements, and Clinton to various other laws, all of which were being regularly violated and which the FEC failed to timely investigate and act upon. The case was ultimately withdrawn.