(AP) WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission overstepped its bounds in allowing groups that fund certain election ads to keep their financiers anonymous, a federal judge ruled Friday.
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s ruling could pave the way to requiring groups that spend money on electioneering communications — ads that 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 a Supreme Court ruling that 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 a handful of federal court rulings that stripped away long-established limits on how much individuals and organizations may contribute to groups favoring certain candidates.
One such high-profile case, known as Citizens United, gave a green light for corporations and labor unions to spend unlimited sums of their cash on campaign ads. That effectively led to the expansion of “super” political action committees, which have expended more than $50 million on the Republican primary elections and are largely funded by wealthy donors.