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Congressmen seek court order forcing FEC compliance with 527 groups ruling

[JURIST] Two US congressmen on Wednesday filed a motion [PDF text; press release] in the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] requesting Judge Emmett Sullivan [official profile] to order the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) [official website] to provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to treat tax-exempt 527 groups [Opensecrets.org backgrounder] on a case-by-case basis or, in the alternative, to issue new rules requiring the groups to adhere to federal campaign finance laws. The motion refers to the March 2006 ruling [PDF text; JURIST report] by Sullivan in a suit brought by Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Martin Meehan (D-MA) [official websites] that demanded an explanation for the case-by-case adjudication of 527 groups, which have been criticized as vehicles for political interest groups to avoid the soft-money restrictions required by the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 [FEC materials], popularly known as the McCain-Feingold law. In the motion, Shays and Meehan urge immediate action due to the approaching 2006 congressional elections and 2008 presidential election, asking Sullivan to impose a deadline for providing an explanation, or to compel the FEC to identify a date when it will provide the explanation.

Since the March 2006 ruling, the FEC has made no attempt to explain its reasons for the move to case-by-case adjudication, but the commission did announce in June that it voted 4-2 in opposition to issuing new rules [JURIST report].

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