Thee Federal Election Commission won’t appeal a federal court decision reviving an enforcement complaint against conservative nonprofit groups that refused to disclose their donors.
Officials said the FEC commissioners deadlocked 3-3 along party lines in a vote behind closed doors on whether to appeal last month’s decision by Judge Christopher R. Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
The ruling came in a case filed by the liberal nonprofit group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which challenged the FEC’s dismissal of an enforcement action against the conservative groups American Action Network (AAN) and Americans for Job Security (AJS) (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. FEC
, D.D.C., No. 14-cv-1419, memorandum opinion
9/19/16) (4347 Money & Politics Report, 9/20/16
The conservative groups have spent millions on political ads favoring Republicans since 2010 without disclosing any of their donors. CREW charged that the groups violated FEC rules requiring any organization with a “major purpose” of influencing elections to register with the FEC and report its donors.
The deadlocked vote on whether to appeal Cooper’s ruling was expected because Republican and Democratic FEC commissioners have been deeply divided over how to handle disclosure issues. The result raises a major question, however, about how the FEC will resolve the enforcement matters involving the conservative groups.