Campaign-finance activists vowed to take the Federal Election Commission to court Thursday after it disregarded a finding by its staff that Crossroads GPS, conservative nonprofit backed by Karl Rove, likely broke campaign laws during the 2010 elections. On Friday, the FEC quietly released a legal opinion by its staff lawyers that found that the “major purpose” of Crossroads GPS was to elect federal candidates, despite being registered as a “social-welfare” nonprofit group. The FEC’s general counsel recommended holding a formal investigation into the group. However, the FEC decided not to take any action after a deadlocked 3-3 vote by its commissioners along party lines. On Thursday, that decision drew sharp criticism from campaign-finance activists.
“The rationale of the Republican bloc of commissioners is tortured and obstructionist,” said Craig Holman of Public Citizen, one of the groups that brought the original complaint. The groups said in a statement they plan a new suit that will argue the FEC’s dismissal of the case “was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to the law.”
Crossroads GPS declined to comment on the FEC staff findings or the latest threat by campaigners to sue the election regulator. But it repeated earlier denials that it’s a political committee or mainly engaged in electioneering.