A Republican attorney who serves as treasurer for the anti-Hillary Clinton political action committee Stop Hillary PAC said Thursday that he “would not back down one iota” in the face of a demand from the Federal Elections Commission that his PAC change its name to avoid confusing voters.
Attorney Dan Backer, the founder of DB Capitol Partners in Alexandria, Va., is also a founder of the PAC in question, and he is no stranger to battles with the FEC, which he has fought in court on numerous issues. This current tussle, he said, began when he received a letter from the FEC earlier this year requesting details about the PAC.
“Your committee's name includes the name of a candidate; however, your committee does not appear to be an authorized committee of that candidate,” the letter said. “If your committee is authorized by a candidate, please amend your Statement of Organization…Otherwise, you must amend your Statement of Organization to change the name of your political committee so that it does not include the candidate's name and/or provide further clarification regarding the nature of your committee.”
However, the regulations adopted by the FEC to implement federal election laws are actually very specific about unauthorized committees’ use of candidates’ names, and on a plain reading, at least, appear to support Backer’s position.
The regulation reads, in part: “An unauthorized political committee may include the name of a candidate in the title of a special project name or other communication if the title clearly and unambiguously shows opposition to the named candidate.”
In his response, delivered this week, Backer wrote that the members of his PAC were “unsure, considering the choice to include the verb ‘STOP’ in the Committee's name, followed by the clear object sought to be stopped, ’Hillary’, what further clarification could possibly make clearer the Committee's lack of candidate authorization and, in fact, its open, aggressive, and blatantly obvious opposition to Hillary Clinton.
“This Committee would encourage the FEC to vigorously investigate who it is that is so stupid that they would think a political committee named ‘Stop Hillary PAC’ is in any way an authorized committee of Hillary Clinton.”
In an interview Thursday, Backer made it clear that he doesn’t think the issue is stupidity at all, as much as it is malice. He said there are obvious parallels between the Internal Revenue Service’s alleged targeting of conservative groups in advance of the 2012 election and the FEC’s demand that the Stop Hillary PAC change its name.
“I don’t think it’s unusual that the regulatory agencies that have long been staffed by Democratic operatives, are more likely to harass conservative groups than liberal groups,” he said. “This is all about the continued weaponization of government to advance a political agenda.”
“I would like an apology from the FEC,” Backer said. Asked what the agency ought to apologize for, he said, “Wasting my clients’ time with such trivial nonsense.”
A spokesperson for the FEC said Thursday that the agency had no comment on the issue or on Backer’s demand for an apology.
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