FEC dismisses complaint accusing Democrats, GOP of trying to evade soft-money ban
April 29, 2003
WASHINGTON (AP) — In its first major enforcement decision under the nation’s new campaign finance law, the Federal Election Commission has dismissed a complaint accusing the Democratic and Republican parties of trying to evade a ban on corporate and union contributions.
Following an investigation, the FEC announced Monday that it would take no further action on a complaint accusing the two major parties of creating groups to continue collecting “soft money” despite a ban that took effect last November when the law went into effect.
Four campaign-finance watchdog groups filed a complaint last November accusing the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic National Committee of trying to skirt the ban on raising soft money by national parties that took effect earlier that month.
The complaint by Common Cause and others said the NRCC set up a group called The Leadership Forum while the Democratic National Committee and its chairman, Terry McAuliffe, established the Democratic State Parties Organization to get around the new law.
All those named in the complaint denied any wrongdoing, including the NRCC and DNC, who said they had no connection to the new groups.
In a 4-1 vote, the FEC ruled earlier this month that the NRCC had violated the new law by transferring $1 million to The Leadership Forum, but that the commission should take no action beyond a letter of admonishment because the money was subsequently returned to its donors. Commissioner Ellen Weintraub didn’t vote.
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In a 4-2 decision, the commission concluded that none of the other groups named in the complaint had broken the law.