FEC Settles National Defense PAC Case

Sarah Lee, Communications Director

The Center for Competitive Politics

703.894.6824

[email protected]

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Following on the heels of a decision in late July  granting The National Defense PAC’s (NDPAC) motion to stay discovery in its case against the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the FEC acknowledged yesterday that rules preventing PACs from both contributing to candidates and conducting independent expenditures were unconstitutional.

NDPAC was represented by the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP), Dan Backer of DB Capitol Strategies, Benjamin Barr, and Stephen Hoersting.

Yesterday’s settlement effectively forfeits the FEC’s ability to enforce regulations requiring separate PACs for independent expenditures and candidate contributions, provided those activities are conducted from segregated bank accounts. The settlement follows last month’s successful motion preventing the FEC from examining NDPAC’s documents, deposing its executives or otherwise subjecting the organization to a burdensome investigation. It also gives permanent effect to a preliminary injunction granted by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on June 14.

The gist of the argument made by CCP and co-counsel is that PACs should not be burdened with the necessity of cloning themselves, and assuming twice the regulatory burden, in order to speak on political topics. Small, grass-roots organizations like NDPAC, are especially hard hit by such requirements. The FEC’s acknowledgement of this undue burden on political association makes it easier for Americans to participate in the political process.

Allen Dickerson, CCP Legal Director, was pleased with the decision. “This is a major victory for grass-roots organizations that cannot afford to comply with burdensome regulations, or hire a lawyer if those regulations violate the constitution,” he said. ” In acknowledging the unconstitutionality of its regulations, the FEC is making it easier for average Americans to engage in political speech.”