facebook linkedin twitter

D.C. Circuit Tosses Election Act Case

May 19, 2021 by Dan McCue
D.C. Circuit Tosses Election Act Case
The headquarters of the Federal Elections Commission.

WASHINGTON – The Campaign Legal Center had neither standing nor a claim when it accused the Federal Elections Commission of failing to act on a claim a federal contractor violated campaign finance laws.

The nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center and Catherine Hinckley Kelley, a senior director, filed an administrative complaint against GEO Corrections Holdings Inc., on Nov. 1, 2016, accusing it of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act’s prohibition on contributions by federal contractors.

Specifically, the complaint said GEO Corrections Holdings violated the law by contributing $225,000 to Rebuilding America Now, a SuperPAC supporting former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, in 2016.

On Jan. 10, 2018, the Campaign Legal Center sued the FEC, claiming both that it failed to act on the underlying complaint, and that the failure to act was contrary to both the FECA and the Administrative Procedure Act.

On May 26, 2020, the U.S. District Court in Washington dismissed both counts, ruling the plaintiffs had no claim under the APA as the Federal Election Campaign Act provides the exclusive mechanism for judicial review of administrative complaints under the statute.

The Campaign Legal Center appealed, arguing that the statute confers a legally enforceable substantive right to timely action on its administrative complaint and that the commission’s failure to act on the complaint creates an injury sufficient to establish standing. 

The U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Columbia disagreed, finding the statute is procedural and noting Supreme Court precedent that the deprivation of a procedural right alone is insufficient to establish standing. The appeals court explained that the plaintiff must identify a concrete interest that is harmed by the commission’s alleged failure to act on their administrative complaint. 

The mere allegation that the commission failed to process an administrative complaint in accordance with law is not enough to establish that the plaintiff had in fact been injured, the appeals court said.

The Campaign Legal Center also argued it had suffered an “informational injury” as the commission’s alleged failure to act on their complaint has deprived them of disclosure information that they are entitled to under the FECA. The appeals court found that the plaintiff had forfeited this argument as it was not raised in either their administrative complaint or in the district court proceedings.

Having determined that the district court was correct in finding that the plaintiff lacked standing to sue under the FECA, the appeals court affirmed that portion of the district court’s decision.

Although the Campaign Law Center did not appeal the district court’s ruling on their APA count, the appeals court considered the district court’s judgment on the merits that the FECA provides the exclusive mechanism for judicial review of administrative complaints under the Act. 

The appeals court found instead that the plaintiff lacked standing under the APA and vacated the district court’s judgment, remanding this count to the lower court with instructions to dismiss it for lack of standing.

The case is Campaign Legal Center v. FEC 18-0053 / 20-5159.

A+
a-

In The News

Health

Voting

Campaign Finance

January 18, 2022
by Dan McCue
Solicitor General Calls Out Cruz in Supreme Court Case

WASHINGTON — The Ted Cruz for Senate’s First Amendment challenge to a key campaign finance law should be tossed by... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Ted Cruz for Senate’s First Amendment challenge to a key campaign finance law should be tossed by the Supreme Court as the campaign committee’s alleged injuries were self-inflicted, the U.S. solicitor general claimed in a court filing on Tuesday. As previously reported by... Read More

January 14, 2022
by Dan McCue
Supreme Court to Weigh In on Ted Cruz Campaign Loan

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether a Federal Election Commission limit on the amount campaigns can... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider whether a Federal Election Commission limit on the amount campaigns can use of post-election contributions to repay debts they owe to the candidates themselves violates the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The case stems from... Read More

November 12, 2021
by Dan McCue
District Court Says FEC Dropped Ball on Political Committee Case

WASHINGTON — The Federal Elections Commissions failed to act on an administrative complaint from the Campaign Legal Center in a... Read More

WASHINGTON — The Federal Elections Commissions failed to act on an administrative complaint from the Campaign Legal Center in a timely fashion and must now resolve the matter within the next 30 days, a federal court ruled Thursday. The ruling stems from a complaint the Campaign... Read More

November 5, 2021
by Dan McCue
Green Party’s Stein Seeks Court Review of Order to Repay $175K

WASHINGTON — Former Green Party candidate Jill Stein and her campaign committee, Jill Stein for President, are asking the U.S.... Read More

WASHINGTON — Former Green Party candidate Jill Stein and her campaign committee, Jill Stein for President, are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia to review a Federal Elections Commission order that she repay $175,272 in matching funds she received during the... Read More

October 19, 2021
by Dan McCue
Fortenberry Accused in Indictment of Lying to FBI

WASHINGTON — Nine-term Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of lying to... Read More

WASHINGTON — Nine-term Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of lying to the FBI and concealing information from federal agents investigating campaign contributions illegally made to him by a Nigerian billionaire. The indictment stems from an FBI investigation... Read More

House Democrats Post Record August Fundraising Ahead of 2022

WASHINGTON (AP) — The campaign organization aiming to maintain Democratic control of the House in the 2022 midterm races raised... Read More

WASHINGTON (AP) — The campaign organization aiming to maintain Democratic control of the House in the 2022 midterm races raised $10 million last month, its best August haul ever during a year without a national election. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee says that nearly 250,000 grassroots... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top