Articles Posted in Election Law

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The FEC filed suit alleging that former Senator Larry E. Craig, his campaign committee, and the committee’s Treasurer converted campaign funds to the Senator’s personal use in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, 52 U.S.C. 30109(a)(4). The district court granted summary judgment to the FEC and ordered the Senator to disgorge $197,535 and to pay a civil penalty of $45,000. Appellants had spent campaign funds to pay legal fees the Senator incurred in connection with efforts to withdraw his guilty plea to a criminal charge of disorderly conduct. The court affirmed the judgment, concluding that the district court did not err in finding that appellants unlawfully converted campaign contributions to personal use by spending them on Senator Craig’s effort to withdraw his guilty plea. Nor did the district court abuse its discretion by ordering disgorgement to the United States Treasury and payment of the civil penalty. View "FEC v. Craig for U.S. Senate" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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The Institute, a Section 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, filed suit against the FEC, challenging the constitutionality of the disclosure requirements of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, 52 U.S.C. 20104(f). The district court denied the Institute's request to convene a three-judge district court pursuant to the statutory provision that requires three-judge district courts for constitutional challenges to the BCRA. On the merits, the district court held that the Institute's claim was unavailing under McConnell v. FEC, and Citizens United V. FEC. The Institute appealed. The court concluded that, because the Institute’s complaint raises a First Amendment challenge to a provision of BCRA, 28 U.S.C. 2284(a) entitles it to a three-judge district court. In this case, the Institute’s attempt to advance its as-applied First Amendment challenge is not “essentially fictitious, wholly insubstantial, obviously frivolous, and obviously without merit.” Therefore, section 2284 “entitles” the Institute to make its case “before a three-judge district court.” Accordingly, the court reversed and vacated the district court's judgment, remanding for further proceedings. View "Independence Institute v. FEC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit challenging the FEC’s rule requiring corporations and labor organizations to disclose only those donations “made for the purpose of furthering electioneering communications.” At issue in this appeal is whether the rule survives Step Two of the Chevron framework and State Farm's arbitrary and capricious test, Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n, Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. The court held that the FEC’s purpose requirement satisfies both Chevron Step Two and State Farm review has the benefit both of being a correct application of black letter administrative law and of forestalling to some other time an answer to the important constitutional questions bubbling beneath the surface of this case. Accordingly, the court reversed the district court's judgment. View "Van Hollen, Jr. v. FEC" on Justia Law

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The Commission imposed an $8,690 fine on the Combat Veterans and its treasurer, David Wiggs, in his official capacity, for failing to meet three required reporting deadlines under the Federal Election Campaign Act, 2 U.S.C. 431 et seq. Combat Veterans filed suit against the Commission, contesting the fine and charging that the Commission’s procedural errors deprived it of the power to act. On cross-motions for summary judgment, the district court rejected all of Combat Veterans’ claims and granted judgment to the Commission. At issue, among other things, was whether the Commission’s voting procedures may contravene the Campaign Act, 52 U.S.C. 30109(a)(2). The court affirmed the judgment of the district court, concluding that the Commission’s use of its voting procedure was harmless even if it was in error. In this case, Combat Veterans has failed to show that the Commission’s use of its allegedly flawed voting procedure caused it any prejudice. The court rejected Combat Veterans' remaining challenges, agreeing with the district court's explanations. View "Combat Veterans for Congress v. FEC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, individual government contractors, challenged 52 U.S.C. 30119(a)(1) as violating their First Amendment and equal protection rights. 52 U.S.C. 30119(a)(1) barred individuals and firms from making federal campaign contributions while they negotiate or perform federal contracts. The court rejected plaintiffs' challenge because the concerns that spurred the original bar remain as important today as when the statute was enacted, and because the statute is closely drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgment of associational freedoms. The court stated that there is no dispute regarding the legitimacy or importance of the interests that support the contractor contribution ban. The ban is not only supported by the compelling interest in protecting against quid pro quo corruption and its appearance, it is also supported by the obviously important interest in protecting merit-based public administration commonly at issue in cases involving limits on partisan activities by government employees. Further, the statute employs means closely drawn to avoid unnecessary abridgement of associational freedoms, and does not deprive the plaintiffs of equal protection of the laws View "Wagner v. Federal Election Comm'n" on Justia Law

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The Federal Election Campaign Act, 2 U.S.C. 441b, sets forth ground rules for the participation of corporations in the electoral process. The Act permits limited corporate participation through separate segregated funds, a type of political action committee. Stop this Insanity and others (collectively, "plaintiffs") filed suit alleging that the restrictions on the segregated funds were unconstitutional. The court concluded that plaintiffs would like to use its segregated fund to solicit the entire public while concealing its expenses for such solicitation. Even assuming plaintiffs' constitutional analysis is correct under Citizens United v. FEC, it is far from a foregone conclusion that the Act is severable in a way that would eliminate the restrictions but leave intact the partial waiver on disclosure. The court concluded that it need not make this determination because plaintiffs' arguments failed on the merits. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. View "Stop This Insanity, Inc., et al. v. Federal Election Commission" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law

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This appeal concerned plaintiff's filing of an administrative complaint with the FEC alleging that various organizations violated election laws during their efforts to keep him off the ballot. The FEC dismissed the complaint and the district court subsequently granted summary judgment against plaintiff, later denying his motion to alter or amend its judgment. Plaintiff appealed. The court rejected plaintiff's claim of competitor standing where he sought to compel FEC enforcement against his opponents years after the campaign had run its course, and claim of informational standing where he asserted an injury that was not sufficiently concrete to confer standing. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appeal and concluded that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the suit because plaintiff lacked standing. View "Nadar v. FEC" on Justia Law

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Three federal contractors sought a declaration that 2 U.S.C. 441c abridged their freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment and denied them the equal protection of the laws in violation of the Fifth Amendment. FECA prohibited any "person" contracting with the federal government from contributing to "any political party, committee, or candidate for public office or to any person for any political purpose or use" in a federal election. The court sua sponte vacated and remanded to the district court to comply with immediate procedures set forth in section 437h, concluding that FECA's judicial review provision ousted both the district court and the court's jurisdiction to consider the merits of the claims. View "Wagner, et al. v. Federal Election Commission" on Justia Law

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Appellee brought a lawsuit challenging 11 C.F.R. 104.20(c)(9), a regulation promulgated by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), that purported to implement section 201(f)(2)(F) of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), 2 U.S.C. 434. The court held that appellee easily satisfied the requirements of 5 U.S.C. 702 and demonstrated his Article III standing by showing that he would be unable to obtain disclosure of information under the BCRA because of the allegedly unlawful restrictions imposed by section 104.20(c)(9). On the merits, the court held that the district court erred in holding that Congress spoke plainly when it enacted 2 U.S.C. 434(f), thus foreclosing any regulatory construction of the statute by the FEC. Moreover, employing traditional tools of statutory construction, the court did not find that Congress had an intention on the precise question at issue in this case. Indeed, it was doubtful that, in enacting 2 U.S.C 434(f), Congress even anticipated the circumstances that the FEC faced when it promulgated section 104.20(c)(9). The court reversed and vacated summary judgment in favor of appellee, remanding to the district court. Upon remand, the district court shall first refer the matter to the FEC for further consideration. View "Van Hollen, Jr. v. FEC, et al" on Justia Law

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The Libertarian Party, along with its 2008 presidential candidate Bob Barr, contended that the District's failure to report the number of votes cast for Barr violated the First and Fifth Amendments. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Board. The court concluded that because the party had failed to show that the District's law placed a severe burden on its rights, the District's important regulatory interests were generally sufficient to justify the restrictions pursuant to Burdick v. Takushi. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Libertarian Party, et al. v. DC Board of Elections, et al." on Justia Law