Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Commentaary: Club for Growth v. FEC

I have decided to publish this whole e-mail, because I am very upset about this situation. This is a Club of which I am a member. As a matter of fact, it is the only place I give money. What is happening is wrong! Please, if you are not a member, go their site and join. (Emphasis mine.)
Late yesterday afternoon the Federal Election Commission filed suit against the Club for Growth in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. News accounts report that Federal Election Commission officials view the filing as a "test case". We view it as a preposterous assault on your rights and those of every American.

After the FEC made its filing in Court, I released the following statement to the media:
"The Federal Election Commission's suit against the Club for Growth continues this agency's war on the First Amendment and its defense of incumbents from criticism of their policies. The FEC's claims and legal theories are a bizarre interpretation of the Club's mission, the Constitution, the laws adopted by Congress and their own regulations governing nonprofit organizations.

"The Club's principle purpose is to advocate for and defend pro-growth policies. One of the ways we do that is through the Club for Growth PAC, which allows Club members to donate to pro-growth candidates and independent expenditure campaigns. We have consulted with counsel every step of the way and have followed the law and regulations that govern our work.

"This action by the commission was triggered by a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee complaint about ads we ran criticizing former Sen. Tom Daschle's refusal to back pro-growth tax cuts. The complaint had no supporting detail and the Commission allowed it to lie inactive for nearly a year and one half and then resurrected it as a platform to seek to take away our members' rights and exact a huge civil penalty from the Club.

"The FEC, under pressure from liberal organizations that want to regulate free speech, is attempting to regulate organizations through the Courts when the Congress and the agency itself have rejected additional regulations on 527 groups such as the Club.

"The Club will vigorously defend the rights of our members, and all Americans, to organize and speak out about our government's policies. The FEC's outrageous lawsuit will further boost our members' determination to work harder than ever before for free speech and free markets."

No doubt you have questions about what this means to the Club. Here are some questions we've been hearing already and some answers that might be helpful.

Q: What is this lawsuit about, specifically? What exactly are they saying the Club did wrong?

A: There are two main points in the FEC's very complex legal theory. The first is that they allege that some Club for Growth TV ads which ran in 2000 and 2002 crossed the gray line into what is known as "express advocacy" for or against a candidate. Second, the FEC then jumped to the ridiculous conclusion that this turns the Club into a Political Action Committee instead of a membership organization. PACs are not allowed to have members and contributions to such groups are limited. In essence they want to strip you and every other Club member of your right to be a member of the Club.

The ads in question were all reviewed by outside counsel before they aired on TV, and the advice we received was that the ads were not express advocacy. The ads simply referred to a candidate and critiqued the candidate's views on economic issues. None of the ads in question in this case told anyone how to vote.

Q: Why was the Club targeted instead of George Soros and his liberal allies?

A: We have always known that the Club is a tempting target for federal regulators for several reasons. First, they don't like what we stand for. Reducing the size and power of the federal government and expanding freedom is our core mission.

Needless to say, the FEC's real mission is to expand the reach of the federal government and reduce the freedom of the American people. Engaging in frivolous lawsuits is their chief weapon.

Second, unlike the establishment political parties and even most issue advocacy organizations, the Club engages in an activity that is considered out-of-bounds in Washington - we strongly criticize incumbent politicians of both parties when they support policies that would damage our economy, and the Club's PAC sometimes even supports challengers to incumbents in primaries.

That's a big no-no in Washington, but it's essential if we are to stop the bipartisan move toward ever-bigger government.

Third, the regulators target us because we're successful. No organization in America raised and spent more money than the Club and Club PAC did last year advocating the philosophy of limited government. Our very existence poses a mortal threat to those who want unlimited government.

Q: What does this mean for me as a member of the Club for Growth?

A: Essentially nothing. Individual Club members have no liability whatsoever, regardless of what happens in court. If anything, this overreaching and unfounded action by the federal bureaucracy is even stronger proof that the Club's mission is more important than ever.

The big government establishment in Washington wants to silence your participation in the political process - now is the time to step forward and redouble all of our efforts both to promote our advocacy of pro-growth economic policies and to defend our First Amendment rights.

Q: What does this mean for the Club's operations?

A: We will continue our advocacy of economic growth policies and our PAC's support for the best pro-growth candidates. With your help, thus far in 2005, the Club, the Club's PAC and the Club's lobbying affiliate have already broken our previous fundraising records. The Club has been the national leader in advocating key pro-growth policies such as permanent repeal of the death tax and Social Security personal accounts. All of that will continue at a record setting pace. We will continue to obtain the best possible legal advice as to our rights and obligations.

The only thing that will change is that we will have to bear the additional burden and expense of a legal battle with the FEC. That's a process that will take several years, and could go all the way to the Supreme Court. Rest assured that we have a plan in place to finance this legal battle, without detracting one bit from our pro-growth advocacy mission.

Q: How can I help?

A: While we are very confident in our legal position, we take this matter very seriously, and we will have the best possible legal representation. In the coming weeks we will provide you with information about how best to assist in our legal battle with the federal bureaucrats and their liberal allies.

We welcome additional questions you might have on this outrageous action by the FEC and will post more questions and answers on our blog.

Finally, I must say that our efforts to work this out with the FEC were a real eye-opener for me. The arrogance and unfair treatment was incredible. At one point when the Club asked the FEC how we could operate consistent with their view of the law, they refused to tell us.

We will have more information on this in the days and weeks to come. Clearly this is an agency that is out of control and refuses to uphold and defend the Constitution.

Thank you for your support.

Best Regards,

Pat
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Patrick J. Toomey
President, Club for Growth
2001 L Street, NW, Ste 600
Washington, DC 20036
PH: 202-955-5500

Let us show big government that they just cannot do this! They cannot go back to a year when the McCain-Feingold law was not even in effect yet. We have standing. It is called the Constitution. "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Shall be passed." The USA Constitution.

We are not helpless. We may contact them in many ways:
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, NW
Washington, DC 20463
(800) 424-9530

In Washington (202) 694-1100

For the hearing impaired, TTY (202) 219-3336 Send comments and suggestions about this site to: webmaster@fec.gov.

If you would care to show your support, you could join the team. Just go to Club for Growth.org. It is a very good club, and they even have a blog! lol. Hey, you have to find something bright, right?!

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