WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission (search) is asking a judge to throw out a lawsuit by sponsors of the nation's new campaign finance law accusing the agency of opening loopholes in the restrictions.
Reps. Christopher Shays (search), R-Conn., and Martin Meehan (search), D-Mass., contend FEC rules spelling out how the commission will enforce the law considerably weakened its cornerstone: a broad ban on the use of corporate, union and unlimited "soft money" donations in federal elections.
Their lawsuit challenges several FEC rules. They include those covering the soft money ban; political coordination among interest groups, candidates and political parties; and restrictions on election-time ads by soft money interest groups, including a commission decision to exempt an entire class of tax-exempt organizations from the new limits.
The FEC wants U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly to dismiss the lawsuit. The commission contends Shays and Meehan lack standing to challenge the rules and that the FEC had the authority to interpret the law as it did.
Shays and Meehan argue they will be directly affected if the FEC rules stand.
The lawmakers contend that if the soft money ban isn't carried out faithfully by the FEC, they will again have to raise money, campaign and legislate in a system "significantly corrupted by the influence of special-interest money."
Each side made its case in written arguments filed with the court Friday. They have until the end of this month to respond to their opponents' claims.