Statement of Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer

Today, the three Republican Commissioners on the six-member FEC have once again shown their disdain for the nation’s campaign finance laws they are supposed to implement and enforce.

The three Republican Commissioners blocked an effort by Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) to initiate a rulemaking by the agency to replace fundamentally flawed FEC regulations that have eviscerated the statutory requirements for outside groups to disclose the donors financing their “independent expenditures” to influence federal elections.

As a result of these improper regulations and similarly flawed FEC regulations relating to disclosure of donors funding “electioneering communications” by outside groups, there was no disclosure of donors for more than $135 million in campaign expenditures by outside groups in the 2010 congressional races. This problem will be far worse in the 2012 elections, unless effective contribution disclosure requirements are established.

The Supreme Court in the Citizens United case recognized by an 8 to 1 vote that citizens have a basic right to know the donors who are funding outside spending to influence campaigns. Existing law requires such disclosure.

The three Republican FEC Commissioners today continued to block any effort by the agency to require effective disclosure. They voted to keep in place current ineffective and improper rules that will make sure that the public is kept in the dark and that secret money can continue to flow into the 2012 presidential and congressional elections.

Representative Van Hollen already has a lawsuit against the FEC pending in federal district court that challenges the existing FEC regulations covering the disclosure requirements for contributions to outside groups making “electioneering communications.” The case has been briefed and is scheduled for oral argument before federal district court judge Amy Berman Jackson on January 11, 2012. Representative Van Hollen is represented in this case by the Democracy 21 legal team.

Today’s deadlock at the FEC now creates the opportunity for Representative Van Hollen to file a second lawsuit challenging as contrary to law the FEC regulations covering the disclosure requirements for contributions to outside groups making “independent expenditures.”

The three Republican FEC Commissioners are carrying out a campaign to undermine the nation’s campaign finance laws. They are working to eviscerate the laws they are supposed to support and that have been enacted to protect citizens against corruption.