That estimate was used last year to dismiss a lawsuit against former President Donald Trump over payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
The original opinion was written by Judge Nyomi Rao The three-judge panel that decided the first case Monday reiterated that the prosecutor's "discretionary powers are not subject to judicial review." Three other judges agreed with the statement He refused to refer the case for full circle review, writing that "the suspension of the court to consider whether it is appropriate to apply the electoral laws more vigorously has not expired."
Judge Patricia Millett, who disagreed on both cases, complained that the ruling allowed a minority of FEC members to settle each case without review, using only the term "prosecutor's discretion".
"In a perverse twist," he wrote Monday, echoing a colleague, "those charged with enforcing the laws that protect the electoral components of our democracy are free to act outside the law." The Commission's decision represents the dark world of politics in an even darker place."
The Central Electoral Commission, headed by six commissioners, may have no more than three members from the same political party and requires four votes. If the vote fails, the commissioners who opposed the process must justify their decision. Independent observers can then file a lawsuit and claim in federal court that the commission acted illegally.
Democrat-appointed Commissioner Elaine Weintraub said the split between the parties makes the FEC an "unusual agency". "Everyone expected from the start that this would make enforcement more difficult, and they created this safeguard clause for complainants to sue." Now, he says, "these decisions drive people away."
The earlier ruling already prompted a DC district judge to resign, ruling in favor of the GOP-affiliated American Action Network, which it accused of campaigning and calling itself a nonprofit to avoid donor identification.
Spokesman James Trainor III, Trump's 2020 running mate, said outside groups would use the lawsuits as a "weapon" against their political opponents' freedom of speech.
This particular case involved a group called the New Model, which donated $1 million to a Republican PAC in 2012 without registering as a political committee. As with Trump and the AAN case, Republican members of the FEC voted not to proceed. A lengthy analysis based on the prosecution's assessment concluded that there was a case Too vague for a successful lawsuit. Citizens litigated liability and politics in Washington.
Bipartisan petitions have stopped high-profile and politically contentious cases since the federal election commission was formed in 1974. But in recent years, Republican candidates have expressed a unified opposition to campaign finance regulations and blocked bipartisan affairs.
The former Republican commissioner said in a 2018 radio interview that lowering campaign spending limits was a "good thing for democracy" that helped "get more people involved in politics without being bullied by people who disagree." are".
Disagreements over the nominees, as well as Republican reluctance to nominate new commissioners until the Democratic nominees are also replaced, leave the commission with too few members to survive the 2020 election cycle.
Rick Hasen, an electoral law expert at UCLA Law, said he expects the ruling to further "damage" the effectiveness of the FEC over the past 15 years. In 2006, less than 5 percent of the Executive Branch vote resulted in a deadlock, according to a report by a former Democratic recruiter. A decade later, it was more than 30 percent.
"There were more collaborative moments, fewer obstacles and more struggles," he said. Now "Republican commissioners have the opportunity to have many of their opinions reviewed by the courts."
Weintraub said there has been bipartisan cooperation in recent months, but not on enforcement actions.
"I can't remember the last time we had four votes to investigate a black money case," he said. He predicted that the ruling would "add to the black money collected and spent in our elections" and "would make it increasingly difficult for the commission to enforce the law".
FEC Commissioner Sean Cooksey, who previously worked with Senator Josh Hawley (RD), tweeted that the decision was an "important separation of powers decision". (A nonprofit that advocated for more FEC oversight was hypocritical for taking money from suspected cryptocurrency scammer Sam Bankman-Fred.)
Two of the recently inaugurated US Presidents Biden did not participate in the decision, creating a split between Democratic and Republican officials.