A conservative watchdog group sued the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on Thursday for failing to act on a complaint it filed against Media Matters for America and three other groups founded by liberal political operative David Brock.
The Patriots Foundation filed an FEC complaint in April alleging that Media Matters, a charity, had made unlawful contributions to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as to two super PACs founded by Brock, Correct the Record and American Bridge 21st Century. The group also alleged that American Bridge’s affiliated nonprofit group had made unreported in-kind contributions to the super PAC.
“It’s been more than four months and the Federal Election Commission has failed to even begin an investigation of these allegations,” Patriots Foundation Senior Adviser Craig Robinson said in a statement. “Patriots Foundation is alleging that serious campaign finance violations have been committed by these four organizations related to their activities in the 2016 election. We hope the federal district court moves quickly to force the FEC to do its job.”
Anyone who files an FEC complaint can file a lawsuit in federal district court if the commission does not act on the allegations in 120 days, according to federal campaign finance law.
But the FEC has been unable to take any official actions on complaints since August 2019. Aside from a brief six-week period in May and June, the FEC has been crippled with only three commissioners, rendering it incapable of obtaining the necessary four votes in the affirmative to impose penalties on groups that are alleged to have violated campaign finance laws.
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But a Patriots Foundation spokesman told the Daily Caller News Foundation that its lawsuit, if successful, will enable it to sue Media Matters directly if the FEC still lacks a quorum when the case is resolved.
“If the federal district court requires the FEC to act on the complaint and they can’t sue [due] to lack of a quorum, Patriots Foundation can seek a default judgment to file a civil suit against Media Matters directly,” Patriots Foundation spokesman Matt Mackowiak said.
An FEC spokesman declined to comment.
The IRS complaint also cited American Bridge Foundation’s audited financial statements, which reveal that the group transferred over $10 million to its affiliated super PAC between 2015 and 2018 under a cost-sharing agreement that didn’t formally exist.
The Patriots Foundation was unable to provide the DCNF with an update on the IRS complaints it filed against Brock’s groups. Unlike the FEC, the IRS offers no recourse to complainants to sue if the agency does not act on their allegations in a timely manner.
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