The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that conservative independent outfits 60 Plus Association, American Crossroads, and Americans for Prosperity have violated federal election law by primarily working to influence federal elections while not disclosing their donors.
“Respondents are raising and spending millions of dollars to accomplish their major purpose of influencing federal elections, while hiding their funding sources. By operating in secret, they have violated and continue to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act,” DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil wrote in the complaint.
The six-member commission, composed of three Republicans and three Democrats, has been gridlocked along partisan lines for the past few years and in many cases has struggled to attain the majority necessary to reach a decision. Campaign finance experts said the FEC typically takes longer than a year to resolve such complaints, making it unlikely that the issue will be resolved before the November elections.
The DSCC complaint comes on the heels of a similar request filed with the FEC last month by Robert Bauer, general counsel to the Democratic National Committee and President Barack Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. That filing asked that the FEC require American Crossroads to disclose its donors.
The groups responded to the complaint, characterizing it as a baseless effort to attract publicity.
"This latest complaint is virtually identical to the complaint filed by the Obama campaign and DNC two weeks ago," American Crossroads spokesman Jonathan Collegio wrote in a statement to Roll Call. "[I]t is baseless, completely redundant and serves no purpose other than to generate headlines, as it was distributed to the news media before its recipients. Crossroads takes compliance very seriously.
60 Plus Chairman Jim Martin argued that the complaint cannot be considered seriously because it only addresses conservative groups.
"The fact it includes only GOP leaning groups — and none of the coordinated campaign expenditures being made between and among the DNC, DSCC, and the Democrat's House campaign committee — shows it's naked politics pure and simple," Martin said in a statement.
The DSCC maintained that it expects the FEC to consider the complaint seriously.
"These organizations are actually claiming that they are no more political than a church, a synagogue, or even the American Cancer Society. It is patently absurd and we certainly expect the FEC would take action," Cecil said in a statement emailed to Roll Call. "Right wing billionaires and corporations are getting special treatment, while any other American must adhere to strict limits and disclosure requirements."