interests advanced by the state to justify the prohibition. Those interests-the protection of minority interests and the preservation of the integrity of the election process-are the same as those that have been advanced to justify limitations on corporate expenditures in federal elections.
The critical distinction lies in the threat to these interests posed by corporate spending on referenda, as opposed to spending in connection with candidate elections. As the Court pointed out, "referenda are held on issues, not candidates for public office. The risk of corruption perceived in cases involving candidate elections ... (citations omitted) ... simply is not present on a popular vote on a public issue." 435 U.S. at 790, 98 S. Ct. at 1423. As the NRWC's solicitation letters themselves reveal, the Committee's solicitation efforts were in connection with the 1976 federal elections. The interest in protecting public confidence in elections, absent in Bellotti, is fully present here.
Accordingly, the reasoning and results of earlier cases sustaining prohibitions on corporate expenditures control here in an attack on the scope of an exception to that prohibition. The government has a compelling interest in protecting the integrity of federal elections which justifies section 441b(b)(4)'s limitations. Since preserving the citizen's confidence in government is an interest of the "highest importance," Bellotti, 435 U.S. at 789, 98 S. Ct. at 1422, the Court finds that this interest alone is sufficiently compelling to sustain any restriction on free speech created by the limitation on corporate solicitations at issue here.
NRWC's associational rights claim falls before the same compelling interest. "Neither the right to associate nor the right to participate in political activities is absolute in any event." Civil Service Commission v. National Association of Letter Carriers, 413 U.S. 548, 567, 93 S. Ct. 2880, 2891, 37 L. Ed. 2d 796 (1973). See Buckley, 424 U.S. at 25, 96 S. Ct. at 637. Any infringement on the associational right asserted here-the right to join together to contribute to the National Right to Work Committee's political action fund-is scarcely of the magnitude of that at issue in Letter Carriers. There the Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutionality of the Hatch Act's prohibition on government employee's participation in political campaigns. 413 U.S. at 553, 567, 93 S. Ct. at 2884-2891. In contrast, NRWC's supporters and sympathizers are still free to exercise a full range of political and associational rights on behalf of NRWC and its goals. And to the extent the statute restricts the Committee's ability to solicit, it represents a marginal infringement on these rights and is fully justified by the need to protect the electoral process. In sum, section 441b(b)(4) cannot be considered an unconstitutional infringement on the right of free speech or association guaranteed by the First Amendment.
2. Due Process Claims
As a final defense to the FEC's enforcement efforts NRWC presents a due process challenge based on the entire history of this matter beginning with its initial request for an advisory opinion. The Committee argues that the FEC delay in responding to the request for the advisory opinion, the resistance to compromise in the conciliation process, and partisan influences on the processing of the advisory opinion and administrative complaint combine to vitiate the enforcement action. There is little merit in any of these claims.
NRWC requested an advisory opinion on January 6, 1976. As previously noted, on January 30, Buckley invalidated the Commissioner selection process and otherwise denied the Commission's authority to act. That authority was not restored until May 11, 1976, when Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments of 1976. The NRWC was advised of the reasons for the delay and was invited to resubmit its request after proposed regulations had been issued.
The request was renewed and the FEC staff drafted an advisory opinion. The draft was withdrawn, however, when the staff learned that NRWC's own corporate documents provided that it would have no members.
Shortly thereafter, a complaint was filed with the FEC alleging that NRWC had violated the Act by soliciting non-members-the very practice for which NRWC had sought the advisory opinion. Action on the request was then suspended pending the outcome of the administrative complaint. As these facts indicate, the delay in processing the advisory opinion was due in part to circumstances beyond the agency's control, and in part to NRWC's own failure to provide all of the relevant material.
The argument that NRWC was denied conciliation finds no support in the record. The parties engaged in prolonged conciliation efforts, extending to at least four months beyond the 30 day minimum required by the statute. Both sides offered proposals and counterproposals.
Merely because NRWC failed to get a favorable result in conciliation does not amount to a denial of due process. The statute requires a conciliation period, it does not require settlement.
Finally, NRWC argues that the partisan political motives of "pro-labor" Commissioner Thomas Harris and certain staff members prevented NRWC from receiving a prompt ruling on its advisory opinion request and resulted in over-zealous prosecution of the administrative complaint. This claim was rejected by an earlier Court order of May 4, 1979. No sufficient reasons have been advanced to change that ruling. The suggestions of bias in the handling of the administrative complaint overlook the fact that the Commissioners voted unanimously to find "reasonable cause" to believe NRWC had violated the law and later, after a staff investigation, to find "probable cause" a violation had occurred. Neither the advisory opinion process followed here nor the investigation denied NRWC's right to due process so as to prevent the Court from finding that NRWC violated the Federal Election Campaign Act.
To summarize briefly: the limited exception allowing corporations without capital stock to solicit their members for contributions is not unconstitutionally vague and the limits on corporate solicitation do not violate the rights to free speech and association secured by the First Amendment. Further, NRWC and ERCC have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by soliciting contributions from persons who were not members of NRWC. Finally, the Court finds the violations to be "knowing and willful" in that NRWC, in an effort to secure an advisory opinion sanctioning these solicitations, failed to reveal highly pertinent facts which tended to disprove its entitlement to the exception it claimed.
Under these circumstances, the Court concludes that the Federal Election Commission is entitled to the following relief: 1) a declaration that the challenged provisions of FECA are constitutional; 2) an order enjoining NRWC and ERCC from soliciting persons for contributions to ERCC or any other separate segregated fund in violation of FECA; 3) an order requiring NRWC and ERCC to refund all money collected as a result of the unlawful 1976 solicitations; and 4) the assessment of a civil penalty against NRWC and ERCC in the amount of $ 10,000.00.