The headline information with this story was corrected on Sept. 21. An explanation follows the story.
A federal appellate court struck down a lower court’s decision to require advocacy groups to disclose who funds their election campaigns and sent the case back to that court.
Rep. Christopher Van Hollen Jr. (D-Dist. 8) of Kensington called the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday a blow against transparency in the funding of political campaigns.
The appellate court reinstated a Federal Election Commission regulation that makes the disclosure requirements in federal election law meaningless, Van Hollen said.
A lower court ruled earlier this year in Van Hollen’s favor that advocacy groups had to disclose their donors, but opponents of campaign finance disclosure appealed to the Court of Appeals.
As a result of the massive influx of dollars from special-interest groups, television and radio airwaves have been flooded with ads paid for by anonymous contributors, Van Hollen said.
“The Court of Appeals decision … 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.
The appellate court sent the case back to the lower court for review while the FEC decides whether to issue a new regulation.
The earlier lower court ruling reinstated the 2003 FEC regulations that required full disclosure of donors underwriting the advertisements for nonprofit advocacy groups. In 2007, the FEC issued new rules, allowing the donors to remain secret.
While super political action committees have been required to disclose their donors, tax-exempt groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, have not been. That has attracted donors who want to influence political campaigns but don’t want the publicity, campaign finance reform advocates said.
Correction: Christopher Van Hollen Jr. is a representative, not a delegate.