On Friday, the Federal Election Commission was blocked from subjecting CCP client National Defense PAC (“NDPAC”) to a burdensome and unnecessary investigation. Joining CCP as co-counsel in this effort were Dan Backer of DB Capitol Strategies, Benjamin Barr, and Stephen Hoersting.
After reviewing over 30 pages of argument, the federal district court in DC required only one paragraph to make its decision. That order granted NDPAC’s motion to stay discovery in its ongoing challenge to an unconstitutionally burdensome FEC regulation. As a result, the FEC will not be able to examine NDPAC’s documents, depose its executives, or otherwise engage in an unwarranted investigation of the PAC’s lawful activities. And NDPAC will be saved the substantial costs – in time, attorneys’ fees, and disruption – that such an investigation inevitably entails.
The federal court has already granted a preliminary injunction in the case. As a result, NDPAC is presently allowed to accept both hard- and soft-money contributions, provided it keeps those funds in segregated accounts. The FEC regulation would have required NDPAC to clone itself, creating two separate PACs – with the attendant regulatory burdens – if it wished to both speak in its own name and contribute to candidates.
The court’s decision to stay discovery vindicates the Supreme Court’s statement in Citizens United v. FEC that “[t]he First Amendment does not permit laws that force speakers to retain a campaign finance attorney… before discussing the most salient political issues of our day.” The FEC regulation created real costs for small, grassroots political committees. The district court’s decision helps ensure that where “the issues in [a] case are matters of constitutional law already established by the Supreme Court,” those same groups can bring cost-effective lawsuits to ensure their right to speak.