The Federal Election Commission overstepped its bounds in allowing groups that fund certain election ads to keep their financiers anonymous, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling March 30 could pave the way to requiring groups that spend money on electioneering communications — ads that refer to but don’t expressly advocate for or against a candidate running for federal office — to disclose their donors.
The FEC ruled in 2007 that corporations and nonprofits did not have to reveal the identities of those who financed such ads. That regulation came in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life, which gave more latitude to nonprofit groups — like the Karl Rove-backed Crossroads GPS and the President Barack Obama-leaning Priorities USA — on pre-election ads.
Campaign-finance regulations have received new scrutiny this election cycle, following federal court rulings that stripped away long-established limits on how much individuals and organizations may contribute to groups favoring certain candidates.