Suit blames FEC for inaction over Trump tease over 2024 race

A pro-Democrat super PAC accuses the Federal Election Commission of allowing former President Donald Trump to ‘continue to break the law’ by dragging his feet on a complaint about Trump’s teasing of a future White House bid .

In a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday and provided in advance to The Associated Press, American Bridge is asking a federal judge to compel the commission to pursue its complaint that Trump should have been compelled to file a statement of claim. intention to apply within 15 days of receipt of contributions. or incur expenses over $5,000.

In March, the group accused Trump of violating federal campaign laws by raising and spending money on a race without formally filing his candidacy – on activities such as “payments for events in the Trump properties, rallies featuring Mr. Trump…and digital advertising about Mr. Trump’s events and his alleged 2024 adversary.”

American Bridge is a political action super committee, which means it can raise and spend money but cannot directly contribute or coordinate with any particular candidate. That group wrote in the lawsuit, filed in Washington, that the commission’s delay is forcing it “to spend more money to level the playing field for a Democratic candidate who fell behind a Republican candidate who violates the law”.

A commission spokesperson declined to comment on the complaint on Wednesday, citing federal law that “requires confidentiality” on enforcement matters until they are resolved.

The FEC has often been criticized for its inefficiency and slowness in handling disputes. The six commissioners — three Democrats and three Republicans — are often deadlocked along party lines, resulting in cases being thrown out.

Last year, the deadlocked commission dropped its probe into whether Trump violated campaign finance laws by allegedly asking his personal attorney to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in cash silent to shut up before the 2016 election about a sexual relationship they allegedly had. In February, the FEC opted out of holding Trump accountable for “soft money” violations his campaign had previously acknowledged.

American Bridge, alleging that Trump has already decided to mount a campaign in 2024, argued that the former president “played toes” with federal campaign laws, even citing them as reasons for his opaque statements about his intentions. In a recent interview, Trump told New York Magazine that he had already decided to run and the question he was now facing was whether he would pull the trigger before or after the midterm elections. of November.

“Do I go before or after? It will be my big decision,” he said.

Trump aides and allies widely expect him to host a third presidential race and have discussed preparations, but remain divided on when he should make an announcement.

Representatives for Trump did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Wednesday. Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, previously said American Bridge’s complaint was baseless and accused Democrats of resorting to “cheap tricks.”

Because the commission did not respond to its complaint within 120 days, American Bridge argues that federal election law now allows the group to bring its own civil suit against Trump. In addition to giving Trump “a competitive edge” over potential opponents by not having to disclose his expenses, the group says the commission’s inaction “will only embolden others.” candidates to evade the requirements of the campaign finance system”.

The process regarding alleged violations of the “testing the waters” law can take years to unfold. A judge could rule in favor of American Bridge and order the FEC to take up the complaint. If the commission still does not act, American Bridge could file a new lawsuit, asking a judge to rule on the merits of its original complaint. Similar cases from past election cycles continue to make their way through the courts.

Trump has been teasing the prospect of another race since even before he left office. He’s hinted at his plans in almost every post-presidency appearance and interview, telling conservative hosts and Trump-friendly audiences he’s waiting because an official announcement of his run would trigger fundraising laws. campaigns.

“We may have to run again,” Trump said in South Carolina in March, while campaigning for two Republican candidates for the U.S. House. “In 2024, we’re going to take over this beautiful, beautiful White House. I wonder who will do that. I wonder. I wonder.”

___

Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

___

Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in New York and Brian Slodysko in Washington contributed to this report.