Lawsuit takes on FEC and Campaign Disclosure
A team led by lawyers from Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr filed suit today in federal court in Washington, accusing the Federal Election Commission of gutting a federal law that requires the disclosure of non-profit donors whose money goes toward election advertising.
The lawsuit, on behalf of a prominent Democratic congressman, takes on the politically charged question of election-related disclosures just as the 2012 presidential race is taking shape. It asks a judge to declare an FEC regulation invalid and pave the way for the release of the names of more donors.
According to the complaint (PDF), the FEC regulation meant that in the 2010 congressional election cycle the vast majority of donors for “electioneering communications” remained anonymous. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for example, reported spending $32.9 million on television and other communications, but it disclosed none of its contributors.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act, generally required the disclosure of donors who gave $1,000 or more, the lawsuit says. But, the lawsuit adds, the FEC rule narrowed the reporting requirement based on donors’ intent.