July 7, 2014 •
On Wednesday, July 2, a federal appeals court affirmed the judgment of a district court; independent expenditure committees can lose the right to make unlimited expenditures in certain circumstances. In Vermont Right to Life v. Sorrell , the U.S. Court […]
On Wednesday, July 2, a federal appeals court affirmed the judgment of a district court; independent expenditure committees can lose the right to make unlimited expenditures in certain circumstances.
In Vermont Right to Life v. Sorrell , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled a state-level super PAC was not functionally distinct enough from a sister committee actively contributing to candidates and parties. Whether a group is functionally distinct from a non-independent-expenditure-only entity depends on factors including, but not limited to, the overlap of staff and resources, the lack of financial independence, the coordination of activities, and the flow of information between the entities.
Creating two committees and managing two separate bank accounts is not sufficient to prove the committees’ funds are actually treated as separate. To alleviate the danger of quid pro quo corruption, contribution limits may apply to super PACs when they are not functionally distinguishable from committees directly contributing or coordinating expenditures with campaigns.
July 26, 2012 •
PACs that demonstrate making only independent expenditures not subject to limits
Attorney General William Sorrell has issued a statement that his office will not enforce the $2,000 contribution limit on PACs that only make independent expenditures. The statement comes after a request for clarification from Secretary of State Jim Condos regarding the federal court decision in Vermont Right to Life Committee (VRLC) v. Sorrell.
While the opinion in VRLC v. Sorrell upheld the contribution limit as applied to VRLC’s independent expenditure committee, the ruling was based on the lack of safeguards to ensure that unlimited contributions to VRLC’s independent expenditure committee did not flow into VRLC’s candidate contribution funds.
Attorney General Sorrell stressed that if investigation reveals a PAC’s activities are not conducted entirely independently of candidates, as in VRLC v. Sorrell, it will continue to be subject to the contribution limits.
Photo of Attorney General William Sorrell by Overton2002 on Wikipedia.
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