A U.S. District Court judge on Friday issued a ruling invalidating a Federal Election Commission regulation that has allowed donors to so-called dark-money groups to remain anonymous, the latest development in a years-long legal battle that could have major implications for campaign finance.
Judge Beryl A. Howell ruled the FEC’s current regulation of such groups, including 501(c) 4 non-profits, fails to uphold the standard Congress intended when it required the disclosure of politically related spending.
“The challenged regulation facilitates such financial ‘routing,’ blatantly undercuts the congressional goal of fully disclosing the sources of money flowing into federal political campaigns, and thereby suppresses the benefits intended to accrue from disclosure … ,” wrote Howell, an Obama appointee to the D.C district court. The decision is likely to be appealed….
The FEC now has 45 days to issue interim regulations that uphold the broader disclosure standards and 30 days to reconsider its original decision to dismiss a complaint about the Crossroads GPS’ spending in the Ohio race.
The FEC could appeal the decision, but an appeal would require a unanimous vote from all of the remaining commissioners, since two seats remain vacant. Crossroads could also file an appeal.
Even if the FEC does not appeal, I believe Crossroads GPS could bring an appeal here.