LNCC Challenges FEC in Federal Court
(Washington, D.C.) On Wednesday May 21st, the Libertarian National Congressional Committee joined the Libertarian Party of Indiana and Libertarian party member Chris Rufer in filing a federal lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission. The lawsuit challenges a prohibition on political party committees from forming and funding independent expenditure accounts, a key aspect of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), commonly known as McCain-Feingold, places strict regulations on, among other things, how a political party can raise money, limits the amount of money that can be raised and, more importantly, prevents a party from fully supporting its own candidates for federal office.
Many of BCRA’s restrictions, as enforced by Federal Election Commission (FEC), recently have been challenged and overturned in the U.S. Supreme Court. Two such cases are the high profile McCutcheon v FEC, and Citizens United v FEC. In these two cases, the court overturned the limitations placed on corporate political spending and the aggregate totals an individual may contribute in an election cycle. The restrictions on political parties have largely remained. If successful, this case would strike down arbitrary limitations on contributions to political parties made for the sole purpose of funding their independent speech.
In early 2014, Chris Rufer donated $32,400 to the Libertarian National Congressional Committee, the maximum amount allowed to a national political party committee under the current regulation. Rufer has also donated $10,000 to the Libertarian Party of Indiana, the maximum amount allowed to a state political party committee under the current regulation. Rufer joined the lawsuit because he believes the first amendment guarantees his right to ensure that the Libertarian philosophy and non-coordinated messages are heard by the voters.
LNCC holds that the FEC’s prohibition on political party committees from receiving unlimited funds through an independent expenditure account violates its first amendment right to speak in support of Libertarian candidates for federal office.
LNCC Chairman Mark Rutherford said that, “Libertarians and other minor parties have a much smaller pool of donors than the other two dominating parties. We would like to be able to buy billboards, mailers, and TV and radio commercials that encourage people to vote for the Libertarians on their ballot. We can do that without coordinating with the candidates. But it will take larger donations from our dedicated donors to be able to compete with the two much older political parties.”
The Libertarian National Congressional Committee, Libertarian Party of Indiana, and Chris Rufer are prepared to take this lawsuit all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if necessary.
REFERENCE: Rufer et al. v. FEC Plaintiff’s Motion
The Libertarian National Congressional Committee is more commonly known as the Libertarian National Campaign Committee.