FEC deadlocks on new rulemaking

The Federal Election Commission deadlocked over conducting a new rulemaking on the disclosure of outside groups’ donors at Thursday’s open meeting.

Commissioner Ellen Weintraub offered the motion and pushed her Republican counterparts for a rulemaking during the commission’s meeting. But faced with a 3-3 vote, the FEC instead elected to proceed with defending the current regulations in District Court.  

Commissioners Cynthia Bauerly, Steven Walther and Weintraub voted in support of a new rulemaking, while Commissioners Caroline Hunter, Don McGahn and Matthew Peterson opposed. For a blow by blow of Thursday’s open meeting, check out Dan Backer’s Twitter feed over at DB Capitol Strategies.      

Last month, a D.C. Court of Appeals judge overturned an earlier ruling requiring disclosure. That ruling came after Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) sued the FEC for its declaration that donations of $1,000 or more to corporations, labor organizations and nonprofits need only be disclosed when designated for “electioneering communications.” An electioneering communication is any targeted broadcast, cable or satellite ad, made within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, that directly identifies a candidate for federal office.

But by shifting the nature of their ads away from issue advocacy to express advocacy, groups were able to skirt the requirements.

Because the Hispanic Leadership Fund and Center for Individual Freedom appealed the case without the FEC’s cooperation, an appeals court judge found he was unable to shed light on the case—remanding it with a directive to have the FEC clarify its initial decision or else defend it at the district level.

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