Ethics group asks FEC for dark money disclosure

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan filed a suit Wednesday alleging that the Federal Elections Commission violated campaign finance law by failing to require two groups—the American Action Network (AAN) and Americans for Job Security (AJS)—to register as political action committees which would require they disclose their election spending.

Any group that spends more than $1,000 a year to elect federal candidates must register as a political action committee and file periodic reports to the FEC listing donors and expenditures. Both AAN and AJS, who supported Republican candidates and issues, injected millions into the 2010 election cycle, far exceeding what’s permitted under law for a 501(c)4, according to the suit.

CREW filed complaints in 2012 calling on the FEC and the IRS to investigate AAN’s and AJS’s political spending. After the FEC’s general counsel found that the groups were likely violating the law, three of the commissioners voted to dismiss the complaint.

“The three Republican FEC commissioners think they can simply ignore the laws they don’t agree with. The American Action Network and Americans for Job Security have spent millions on electioneering communications, and the public has a right to know who is paying for all those vitriolic ads,” Ms. Sloan said.

Following the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, dark money groups like AAN and AJS have funnelled massive amounts of money into the political process without public disclosure. Many in Congress—including Colorado’s Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, Diana DeGette and Jared Polis—have supported measures to undo the controversial ruling. In the meantime, groups like CREW are pressing the FEC to at least enforce the laws on the books.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons, edited by Nat Stein


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