Groups sue FEC over dismissed complaints

Two advocacy groups are suing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for failing to investigate claims that donors illegally contributed to super PACs through personal limited liability companies.

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In its suit, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 claim the FEC dismissed five complaints they filed with the agency from 2011 to 2015 alleging individuals had used "LLCs” and other corporate entities as straw donors to hide their identities as the true sources of contributions to “Restore our Future,” the super PAC’s that supported Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run; FreedomWorks for America, the super PAC backing Tea Party candidates; and Black Men Vote.  

The donations ranged from $875,000 to over $12 million.

“Each time the FEC fails to pursue a serious violation of the law, it weakens our democracy and the ability of Americans to know who is truly influencing our elections,” Larry Noble, CLC’s general counsel, said in a statement. “It also sends a loud and clear message that those who violate campaign finance laws will face no penalties.”

The lawsuit claims that the FEC is undermining the Federal Election Campaign Act that’s designed to promote transparency in elections. The groups have asked the court to find that FEC’s dismissals of the complaints were arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion,” and demand the agency enforce the law within 30 days.