Dem Super PAC Claims FEC is Failing to Corral Trump 2024 Expenditures
WASHINGTON — A Democratic super PAC sued the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday claiming the agency failed to act on its charge that former President Donald Trump is making expenditures to advance a 2024 presidential bid without formally declaring his candidacy.
The AB PAC, originally known as American Bridge 21st Century, is a left-leaning super PAC that generally supports President Joe Biden and conducts opposition research to aid Democratic candidates and organizations.
In a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, attorneys for AB PAC say it filed an administrative complaint with the FEC in March, alleging Trump violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by making expenditures to advance his 2024 presidential aspirations without filing a statement of candidacy with the agency.
As a result, he was able to sidestep disclosing these expenditures while accepting “excessive contributions from his leadership PAC and a joint fundraising committee.”
“The goal and effect of Mr. Trump’s efforts,” the complaint says, “is to disguise his run for the presidency, leaving AB PAC and voters in the dark about the contributions and expenditures he has received and made, and who is managing the campaign’s finances —all information they are entitled to under FECA.”
AB PAC notes that since it filed its administrative complaint, two FEC quarterly reporting deadlines have passed.
“Had the [agency] acted swiftly to enforce the law, Mr. Trump would have been required to register a principal campaign committee, disclosing information about his campaign personnel on FEC Form 1 (the Statement of Organization) and all of his campaign activities on detailed reports.
“But because the commission’s inaction has allowed Mr. Trump to continue violating the law, plaintiff and the public have been denied valuable information. Furthermore, as each day passes that Mr. Trump is accepting excessive contributions, he sets himself up to have an unlawful head start against his opponents.
“Mr. Trump’s acceptance of unlawful contributions … provides him with a competitive edge over the Democratic candidate in the 2024 presidential election, who plaintiff plans to support through independent expenditures and other measures,” the complaint continues.
The super PAC then uses Trump’s own words to illustrate the fact he’s already in the hunt for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
Its timeline begins in July of last year, when Trump began making public statements suggesting he had decided to run for president again.
Speaking to Sean Hannity of Fox News, Trump answered in the affirmative when asked if he’d decided whether or not to run, in early July 2021.
The following month, again in conversation with Hannity, Trump was again asked whether he was running in 2024.
“So because the campaign finance laws are extremely complicated and unbelievably stupid, I’m actually not allowed to answer that question, can you believe that?” Trump said. “I’d love to answer it. But let me put it this way; I think you’ll be happy and I think a lot of our friends will be happy but I’m not actually allowed to answer it. Makes it very difficult if I do.”
Later, in the fall of 2021, Trump was asked the same question by a local reporter, his answer captured by C-SPAN.
“Oh, that’s a tough question. Actually for me it’s an easy question. I mean, I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to be talking about it yet from the standpoint of the campaign finance laws, which frankly are ridiculous,” he said.
“In January 2022, when Mr. Trump was introduced at his golf course as the 45th president of the United States, he responded, ‘the 45th and 47th,’” the complaint said.
And “while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February 2022, Mr. Trump said of a third presidential campaign: ‘We did it twice and we’ll do it again . . . we’re going to be doing it again a third time,’” the complaint said.
“He also referred to his wife as ‘the future first lady,’” it added.
Even more recently, in July 2022, the complaint said, “Trump told a reporter for New York Magazine asking about the election that ‘[in] my own mind, I’ve already made that decision, so nothing factors in anymore. In my own mind, I’ve already made that decision.’”
“He further stated that the ‘big decision will be whether I go before or after,’ clarifying later that he meant whether to announce his run before or after the midterms,” the complaint said.
“Time is of the essence, and plaintiff has no recourse but to ask this court to require the FEC to remedy these continuing violations of the Act,” the super PAC said.
It is asking that the court order the FEC to act on its complaint within the next 30 days.
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