A decision by two federal judges is making it impossible to challenge the way the Federal Election Commission enforces campaign laws.
When the FEC deadlocks along party lines, that’s now the end of the line — no court can second-guess letting an accused wrongdoer off the hook.
In a decision handed down in March, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras said he was foreclosed from reviewing the FEC’s dismissal of a complaint against a nonprofit that refused to disclose where it got the money to give more than $3 million to super political action committees during the 2012 election.
That group, New Models, spent more on political donations than anything else that year, according to a complaint by the nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).
The judge agreed with FEC staff lawyers who had written that the Republican commissioners who voted to drop the New Models case have “prosecutorial discretion,” and their wishes are “judicially unreviewable.”
Judicial review was eliminated last June, in a 2-1 decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Critics of that ruling have waited for the better part of year to find out if they’ll be allowed to argue before the full court on reversing that precedent.