The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 are opposing a political action committee's request for a Federal Election Commission advisory opinion that would let it raise unlimited contributions for independent expenditures.
The National Defense PAC submitted the request to the FEC earlier this month. The agency must rule by Oct. 15. In a letter, Dan Backer, counsel and assistant treasurer to the PAC, said the National Defense PAC was seeking to confirm that it would be lawful for it to accept unlimited contributions to offset administrative costs and independent expenditures even though it makes direct contributions to candidates. The FEC has allowed groups such as the Club for Growth, which make independent expenditures, to accept unlimited contributions.
In the request, Backer said the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC and a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, SpeechNOW v. FEC grant "greater protection and range of opportunities." On its web page, the National Defense PAC says it is "dedicated to supporting the election of balanced-budget-committed Military Veterans to the U. S. Congress."
Backer said his clients believe "human beings should have at least as strong a set of political rights as corporations and unions currently enjoy in the wake of Citizens United." The PAC would still be subject to contribution limits on money used for direct contributions to candidates, he said.
Paul Ryan, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, said the Supreme Court explicitly ruled that PACs such as the National Defense PAC are subject to contribution limits in a 1981 case, California Medical Association v. FEC, and the more recent decisions don't change that. "I certainly hope they do what the law requires them to do" and reject the request, Ryan said.
The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed joint comments with the FEC today.