A federal district judge in Washington dismissed political activist Ralph Nader's complaint against the Federal Election Commission Wednesday. In the complaint, Nader had alleged at least 95 lawyers and 53 law firms had underreported contributions to the John Kerry-John Edwards presidential campaign in 2004.
In 2008, Nader filed a complaint with the FEC, but after the commission dismissed the complaint, he filed suit, citing wrongful dismissal.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth granted summary judgment Wednesday to the FEC, concluding that its decision to dismiss Nader's original complaint didn't violate the law.
Of the 53 law firms mentioned, only seven were “professional corporations” and thus subject to the ban on corporate contributions, according to the opinion.
In his complaint, Nader suggested that John Kerry had ties with Reed Smith and 18 of the firm’s attorneys in a ballot-access challenge to Nader’s campaign in Pennsylvania.
“The FEC notes that in one place Nader says that Reed Smith billed its costs for a Pennsylvania challenge to Nader–Camejo’s nominating papers to ‘charity, without charging any client,’ while elsewhere reporting that Reed Smith received compensation from the DNC in the amount of $136,142 for ‘political consulting’ and ‘legal consulting’ fees in October and November 2004,” according to the opinion.
"We think the FEC and the Judge are right in this opinion in concluding that Mr. Nader's claims should be dismissed,” a spokesperson for Reed Smith said in a statement. “We have no comment on specific allegations, except to note that the firm did not provide legal or other services to the DNC."
“This is just another case where the FEC – an agency already notorious for its willful failure to enforce federal campaign finance laws – disregarded its statutory duty to investigate potential violations,” said Oliver Hall, Nader’s attorney and legal counsel to the Center for Competitive Democracy.