Group Files FOIA Request to FEC Seeking Redacted Report on Crossroads

Saturday, 05 Apr 2014 10:32 PM

By Todd Beamon

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The Center for Competitive Politics is demanding that the Federal Election Commission release a redacted report on whether Crossroads GPS is a nonprofit group or a political action committee.

The center, which promotes campaign finance deregulation, said on Friday that it might sue the commission if the report is not released under its Freedom of Information Act request, the National Journal reports.

Based in Alexandria, Va., the center was established in 2005. One of its cofounders is Bradley Smith, a former Republican FEC member.

"It's outrageous that the FEC ignored its own policies and regulations that require this document to be disclosed," Dave Keating, the center's president, said in a statement.

Crossroads GPS was cofounded by Republican political strategist Karl Rove in 2010. The group spent $70.8 million in the 2010 election cycle.

News of the redacted, 76-page report surfaced in December when the six FEC members — three Republicans and three Democrats — deadlocked over another report that found that Crossroads had failed to register as a PAC as it should have because of its election-cycle spending.

The finding would have required Crossroads to disclose its donors. That report, completed by the FEC's general counsel, was made public in early January.

But the deadlock prevented the commission from acting on the report's findings — essentially dismissing the 2010 complaint brought by Public Citizen and other watchdog groups.

The organizations charged that Crossroads' spending made it a PAC and that it should be required to adhere to federal campaign finance laws, The Washington Times reports.

In response, Crossroads denied wrongdoing and had said that it was targeted because of its conservative views and Rove's visibility.

However, in footnotes to the public report, the three Republicans on the panel — Lee Goodman, the chairman, and Commissioners Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen — disclosed the existence of the earlier report, the National Journal reports.

That document had been completed nearly a year and a half before the public one.

The GOP commissioners said that they were publishing that report with the public one "in the name of transparency" and because it "informed our decision" that led to the stalemate, according to the National Journal.

But each page of that report was blank and stamped "redacted" by the FEC's inspector general's office. The report has not been made public.

"We do not believe that these redactions are necessary," the GOP commission members wrote in a memo to last month. They said they had sought to have the report released in a closed-door session but "the vote failed."

In seeking release of the redacted report, the Center for Competitive Politics contends that it could instruct political groups on how far nonprofits can go without drawing the attention of federal elections officials, the National Journal reports.

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