Lawsuit Blames FEC for Inaction in the Face of Trump's Teasing of 2024 Race

A pro-Democrat super PAC accuses the Federal Election Commission of allowing former president donald trump “keep breaking the law” shuffling over complaint about Trump policy teasing a future run for the White House.

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday and provided ahead of time to The Associated Press, American Bridge is asking a federal judge to compel the commission to take action on its complaint that Trump should have been required to file a declaration of intent to candidacy within 15 days after receipt of contributions. or make any expense over $5,000.

In March, the group accused Trump of violating federal campaign laws raising and spending money for a candidacy without officially presenting his candidacy, in activities including “payments for events at Trump properties, rallies with Mr. Trump… and digital advertising about events of Mr. Trump and his alleged opponent of 2024”.

American Bridge is a super political action committee, which means it can raise and spend money, but it can’t directly contribute or coordinate with any particular candidate. The group wrote in the lawsuit, filed in Washington, that the commission’s delay is forcing it to “spend more money to level the playing field for a Democratic candidate who has fallen behind against a Republican candidate who breaks the law.” .

On Wednesday, a commission spokesman declined to comment on the complaint, citing federal law that “requires confidentiality” on enforcement matters until they are resolved.

The FEC has often been criticized for being inefficient and slow in handling disputes. The six commissioners, three Democrats and three Republicans, frequently deadlock across party lines, resulting in dismissals of cases.

Last year, the deadlocked commission dropped its investigation into whether Trump violated campaign finance laws by allegedly ordering his personal attorney to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money to keep quiet before the elections. 2016 election about a sexual relationship they allegedly had. In February, the FEC opted not to hold Trump accountable for the “soft money” violations that his campaign had previously acknowledged.

American Bridge, alleging that Trump has already decided to mount a 2024 campaign, has argued that the former president has “footplayed” federal campaign laws, even citing them as reasons for his opaque statements about his intentions. In a recent interview, Trump told New York Magazine that he had already made up his mind about the candidacy and that the question he was now considering was whether he would pull the trigger before or after the November midterm elections.

“Am I going before or after? That will be my big decision,” she said.

Trump aides and allies widely expect him to stage a third presidential race and have been discussing preparations, but remain divided on when he should make an announcement.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday. Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, earlier said the American Bridge complaint was without merit and accused Democrats of resorting to “cheap tricks.”

Because the commission failed to act on its complaint within 120 days, American Bridge argues that federal election law now allows the group to bring its own civil action against Trump. In addition to giving Trump “a competitive advantage” over potential opponents because he doesn’t have to disclose his spending, the group argues that the commission’s inaction “will only encourage other candidates to evade the requirements of the government funding system.” bells”.

Prosecution for alleged violations of the “test the waters” law can take years to unfold. A judge could rule in favor of American Bridge and order the FEC to take up the lawsuit. If the commission still failed to act, American Bridge could sue again and ask a judge to decide the merits of its initial complaint. Similar cases from past election cycles are still making their way through the courts.

Trump has been teasing the possibility of another candidacy since even before he left office. He has alluded to his plans in almost every appearance and interview since his presidency, telling conservative hosts and pro-Trump audiences that he is waiting because officially announcing his candidacy would trigger campaign finance laws. .

“Maybe we have to run again” Trump said in South Carolina in March, while campaigning for two Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives. “In 2024, we are going to take back that beautiful, beautiful White House. I wonder who will do that. I wonder. I wonder.”

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

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Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in New York and Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed to this report.

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