The non-profit legal watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is taking the Federal Election Commission to court. Click here to read the actual motion but here is the full press release from the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington with a summary:
Unnamed donors who funneled nearly two million dollars through a series of entities to a super PAC in an effort to keep their names off the contribution should not be allowed to remain anonymous, according to a motion to intervene filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) in Doe v. FEC. Campaign Legal Center (CLC) serves as co-counsel in the case.
Following a CREW complaint, the FEC agreed to a $350,000 fine (a post-Citizens United record for a complaint from an outside group) with Government Integrity, LLC, the American Conservative Union (ACU) and the Now or Never PAC for one of the clearest cases of dark money laundering in memory. The LLC used ACU, known for its annual CPAC conference, to launder $1.71 million to the super PAC, for which ACU pocketed $90,000. However, it is unknown where the funds originated.
“This is one of the more blatant conduit contribution schemes we’ve seen,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said. “We need to know where it began and who has worked so hard—in violation of the law—to keep their contribution and their participation in this scheme secret.”
By a split decision, the FEC failed to adopt its General Counsel’s recommendation to go after the originators of the contribution, an unnamed trust and trustee. CREW sued the FEC over this decision two weeks ago. In an unusual move, a trust and its trustee involved in the scheme–either as passthroughs themselves or as the original donor–sued the FEC in an attempt to keep their names from becoming public. CREW is moving to intervene as defendants in an effort to shine a light on these bad actors.
“Federal law gives voters the right to know who spends millions of dollars to get candidates elected,” said Adav Noti, CLC’s senior director, trial litigation. “In this case, major political donors are trying to hide their identities by laundering money through shell companies and trusts. That has been illegal for decades, and this lawsuit will help uncover who is behind the political money-laundering conspiracy.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is a nonprofit that “uses aggressive legal action, in-depth research, and bold communications to reduce the influence of money in politics and help foster a government that is ethical and accountable”. See the Democracy Chronicles Money Politics Section for more.