Watchdog Group Sues FEC For Dropping Trump Campaign Investigation

A watchdog group has sued the Federal Election Commission for refusing to launch an investigation of a complaint accusing Donald Trump’s presidential campaign of illegally coordinating with a super PAC during the 2020 election.

The federal lawsuit, filed Monday in the District of Columbia by Campaign Legal Center Action on behalf of End Citizens United, challenged the decision by the Republican FEC commissioners to reject an investigation without offering any reason, The Hill was the first to report.

The suit is calling on the court to order the FEC to determine whether the Trump campaign violated campaign finance law. 

“We should not have to sue the FEC repeatedly to make it do its job,” Adav Noti, senior director of trial litigation at CLCA, said in a statement. “Yet here is another example of the FEC refusing to enforce key laws that protect the rights of American voters.”

The groups filed a complaint in May 2019 accusing the Trump campaign of issuing a blanket endorsement of all contributions to the super PAC America First Action, throwing open the door for illegal unlimited corporate funds to be fed from the super PAC directly to the campaign and its candidate.

Despite a determination from the FEC’s general counsel that there was reason to believe the Trump campaign violated the law, Republican commissioners blocked an investigation and dismissed the complaint.

The FEC’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s complaint was “arbitrary, capricious, and contrary to law,” the lawsuit states. “The Commission did not even issue an explanation for its action, without which its decision fails to meet the most basic requirement of reasoned decision-making.”

The FEC does not comment on litigation.

Earlier this month, the owner of the National Enquirer agreed to pay a $187,500 civil penalty to the FEC for illegally aiding Trump’s 2016 campaign by suppressing a story about a woman who said she had an affair with him.

The commission found reason to believe that American Media Inc. ― the tabloid’s parent company ― and former CEO David Pecker “knowingly and willfully” made a prohibited corporate contribution to Trump’s campaign when it bought model Karen McDougal’s story for $150,000 in August 2016 in order to keep it quiet. 

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