Hispanic Leadership Fund Challenges Scope of “Electioneering Communications” Rules in Lawsuit Against the Federal Election Commission


August 3, 2012

DES MOINES, IA–The Hispanic Leadership Fund filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission this week seeking clarification to cumbersome rules set forth by the Federal Election Commission surrounding what are called “electioneering communications.”

This lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction finding that advertisements that reference “the government,” “the administration,” “the White House,” and that include unidentified audio of federal officials do not constitute clear and unambiguous references to a candidate for federal office.

Mario H. Lopez, president of Hispanic Leadership Fund, said, “The Hispanic Leadership Fund continues to protect the rights of all groups that want to petition the government for serious policy changes over the next several months without unwarranted violations of their First Amendment Rights.  The First Amendment is a precious and fundamental cornerstone of American society and it must be defended when it is under attack by those who would attempt to intimidate policy advocates into silence.”

The most recent lawsuit continues the Hispanic Leadership Fund’s role as a principal deender of First Amendment speech when HLF intervenedas a defendant in the recent Van Hollen v. FEC case.

Under the electioneering communications rules as recently interpreted, petitioning the government for policy changes in a broadcast advertisement that identifies a clearly identified federal candidate in the 30 days before a primary or 60 days before a general requires an unprecedented level of disclosure.

Since a March 30, 2012 ruling of a trial court in Washington, DC, not a single entity has made such an “electioneering communication”

Jason Torchinsky, counsel to Hispanic Leadership Fund, said, “The U.S. Supreme Court has made clear in McConnell v. FEC, and Citizens United that the application of the electioneering communications rules must be clear, objective bright lines in order to be constitutionally applied. This lawsuit was necessary because the FEC failed to provide guidance in this area.”