WASHINGTON — Rep. Chris Van Hollen called a federal court ruling allowing tax-exempt groups to conceal the identies of their donors “a blow against transparency in the funding of political campaigns.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Tuesday reversed a lower court ruling that directed such groups, which are spending millions of dollars on campaign advertising this election season, to name their donors.
“The Court of Appeals’ decision today will keep the American people, for the time being, in the dark about who is attempting to influence their vote with secret money,” Van Hollen said in a statement. “Hopefully, either the FEC will issue a new disclosure regulation that actually requires disclosure or the District Court will strike down the existing regulation as arbitrary and capricious.”
The Montgomery County Democrat sued the Federal Election Commission last year to establish regulations requiring greater disclosure.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia sided with Van Hollen in March. But the appeals court struck down that ruling Tuesday and directed the FEC to make new rules. If the FEC declines, the District Court is to rule on whether the existing rules are “arbitrary and capricious.”
In the meantime, the tax-exempt groups will not be required to disclose their donors.