DCCC Files Complaint Against Sodrel; Van Hollen Wades Into BCRA Lawsuit

Posted January 29, 2009 at 11:18am

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday filed its first Federal Election Commission complaint since Election Day against former Rep. Mike Sodrel (R-Ind.) charging that he coordinated illegally with third-party groups.

The DCCC alleges that Sodrel, Citizens for Truth and the Economic Freedom Fund illegally coordinated in their attacks against Rep. Baron Hill (D) in the runup to the 2008 elections.

By filing the complaint, the DCCC is further extending what could be the longest campaign saga in recent Congressional race memory: Hill and Sodrel have faced off against one another every cycle since 2002 in Indiana’s 9th district.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Mike Sodrel engaged in a pattern of multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act by illegally coordinating his attacks on Congressman Hill with the shady soft money groups Citizens for Truth and the Economic Freedom Fund,” DCCC Communications Director Jennifer Crider said.

Specifically, the DCCC asked the FEC to investigate the three parties for accepting and making illegal in-kind contributions, plus failing to register and report coordinated activities and expenditures with the FEC.

The committee cites phone records between Sodrel, his family, his staff and employees of Citizens for Truth as the basis for their investigation. The complaint lists 71 phone contacts leading up to the 2006 election between Sodrel’s then-chief of staff, the head of Citizens for Truth, Sodrel’s son, Sodrel’s former office counsel and Sodrel’s family business.

According to the the complaint, the phone records were obtained from a previous lawsuit between Hill and Sodrel, for which the Republican had to provide phone records. That case has since been dismissed, Crider said.

Also this week, DCCC Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) waded into a Republican-brought lawsuit that challenges a key provision of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

Van Hollen filed court papers Wednesday to intervene in and defend against the lawsuit brought by the Republican National Committee that seeks to reverse a Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of a ban on soft money.

Van Hollen is seeking to become a party to the case in order to defend the current law, along with the Federal Election Commission, which is named as the defendant.

The RNC lawsuit is currently pending before a three-judge district court in Washington, D.C. Once the case is decided by the three-judge panel, the law provides for a direct appeal of that decision to the Supreme Court.