“FEC Wrong to Drop Nondisclosure Case, Judge Rules”

Bloomberg BNA:

The Federal Election Commission should have pursued enforcement action against the American Action Network, a conservative nonprofit, for failing to disclose funding sources for millions of dollars in television ads supporting Republican congressional candidates, a federal judge ruled March 20.
The court case focused on ads run by AAN in the 2010 elections, when Republicans won the House majority. It could impact strategies for AAN and other nonprofits gearing up for advertising campaigns in the 2018 midterm elections.
“This is a very important decision that will make it much more difficult for front organizations to run political ads while avoiding registering with the FEC as political committees” and reporting their donors, said election law attorney Brett Kappel of the firm Akerman LLP.
The nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which filed the court case in 2016, said the decision would have a major impact on disclosure by “dark money groups,” because the FEC can no longer ignore the organizations’ spending on campaign-related ads disguised as “issue ads.” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said his group hoped to see “a major change in the way the FEC approaches investigations of nonprofit organizations engaged in politics.”

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