WASHINGTON — A former Libertarian hopeful is asking a Federal court for guidance regarding the transfer of unspent campaign funds to the national Libertarian Party.
Wealthy businessman Shaun McCutcheon has filed a lawsuit in a District of Columbia district court requesting such an action. The filing shows a timestamp of September 4. The premise of the lawsuit: either the court forces the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to answer his question, or the judge answers it instead.
McCutcheon wishes to transfer remaining campaign funds to the Libertarian national committee
McCutcheon, an electrical engineer and CEO of Coalmont Electrical Development Corporation, put $65,000 of his own funds in a campaign account. However, he has $50,000 that is currently unspent. He inquired of the Federal Election Commission if he can legally transfer those remaining funds to the Libertarian National Committee (LNC).
Quorum issue possibly linked to only having three commissioners
According to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News, the FEC refused to answer McCutcheon’s request, citing a lack of a quorum to make a decision. According to the FEC website, there are three active commissioners out of six:
- Steven T. Walther is the vice chair of the FEC, an independent appointment in 2008 by then-president George W. Bush. His term ended April 30, 2009; however, he is still serving until an appointee replaces him.
- Ellen L. Weintraub is a commissioner, a Democrat appointment by Bush in 2002. Her term expired April 30, 2007; however, similar to Walther, she still serves in that role until a replacement appointee is announced.
- James E. Trainor III is the only current appointment to the FEC. Currently the chair, the Republican was appointed to the role on May 19 by President Donald Trump. His term ends on April 30, 2023.
Commission vacancies with no appointments
There are three vacancies on the Commission:
- Lee E. Goodman was a member of the FEC board and as the chair during his term. His seat has been vacant, pending appointment, since his resignation on February 16, 2018. Goodman was a 2013 Republican appointee under then-President Barack Obama.
- Matthew S. Petersen was a member of the FEC board and as the chair twice during his term. His seat has been vacant, pending appointment, since his resignation on August 31, 2019. Petersen was a 2008 Republican appointee under then-President Bush and served during the Obama and Trump administrations.
- Caroline Hunter was a member of the FEC board and briefly served as the chair earlier this year. Her seat has been vacant, pending appointment, since her resignation on July 3. Hunter was a 2008 Republican appointee under then-President Bush.
However, Federal law dictates that the FEC is mandated to issue advisory opinions on such requests.
McCutcheon pinpoints the Michael Bloomberg campaign in his arguments, citing his short-lived bid for the 2020 Democratic nomination. He notes that Bloomberg donated $18 million of his own campaign funds to the Democratic National Committee. No FEC enforcement was taken for that donation.
He additionally notes that Federal law doesn’t permit individuals to donate more than $37,000 in any calendar year to the general treasury of a FEC-recognized national committee.
McCutcheon additionally states that he would like to know if Bloomberg’s donation was legal or not. If it was legal, then McCutcheon should be able to donate $50,000 to the Libertarian National Committee without FEC action or harassment.
Former Libertarian candidate was chief plaintiff in landmark campaign finance lawsuit
The Alabama native, usually a Republican donor and conservative activist, filed his political committee May 7 in hopes of securing the Libertarian nomination. Jo Jorgensen would become the Libertarian presidential nominee during the virtual Phase One convention over Memorial Day weekend.
McCutcheon was the chief plaintiff in a 2014 landmark decision in McCutcheon v. FEC (572 U.S. 185 (2014)), which ruled Section 441 of the Federal Election Campaign Act unconstitutional. Section 441 imposed contribution limits an individual can make over a two-year period to national party and Federal candidate committees.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.