Two campaign finance watchdog groups on Friday sued the Federal Election Commission over the panel’s decision to dismiss a complaint against the conservative Crossroads GPS, co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove.
The suit grows out of a 2010 FEC complaint filed by Public Citizen against Crossroads for what critics said was a failure to register as a political committee and disclose its donors, despite spending massive amounts on political advertising in the 2010 election cycle.
In a statement released Friday, Public Citizen and the Campaign Legal Center contend that Crossroads GPS fits the legal definition of a political committee — a group that receives or spends more than $1,000 during a calendar year to influence elections and whose major purpose is to support or oppose federal candidates.
The FEC commissioners deadlocked 3-3 along party lines on a vote in December over whether to investigate charges American Crossroads had violated guidelines for a “social welfare” organization by engaging in political activity.
Crossroads officials have rejected the complaint as politically motivated, but the watchdog groups want a court to review the FEC’s failure to act.
“Three members of the FEC have chosen to ignore the Commission’s own well-established policies and the strong urging of its own general counsel to investigate these apparent violations, so there is no other recourse but the courts to make the commissioners fulfill the duties of their office,” said Paul Ryan, Campaign Legal Center senior counsel. “The ‘see no evil’ posture adopted by the three Republican commissioners in ignoring what appear to be clear-cut violations of the law and to not even allow an investigation is simply disgraceful.”
Between June and December 2010, Crossroads GPS spent $20.8 million on federal campaign activity, more than half of what it reported spending the entire year.
In October 2010 the group announced a $4.2 million ad buy targeting eight U.S. Senate races and Mr. Rove told Fox News that Crossroads GPS was an avenue for donors who had maxed out to GOP political committees.
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