purpose is to nominate or elect a particular named candidate for federal office. Also reasonably included in the definition of "political committee" is an organization whose major purpose is to elect a slate of named federal candidates. The instant complaint alleges only that "GOPAC's purpose is to elect Republican candidate to the United States House of Representatives." Complaint P 4 (emphasis added). Strictly construed, this paragraph of the complaint appears to allege that an organization whose major purpose at a given point in time is to elect whatever unidentified federal candidates it may select in the future constitutes an organization whose major purpose is to elect a candidate to federal office within the meaning of the statute, and hence, is an organization that should have registered. In Machinists Non-partisan, our Court of Appeals ruled that organizations whose goal was to draft Senator Kennedy to run for President were not "political committees" before November 1979 because Senator Kennedy had not yet become an actual candidate for President. Thus, proof of the generalized allegation in paragraph 4 of the instant complaint, without more, would probably not establish the Commission's claim that GOPAC is a "political committee" under the narrow definition established by the Supreme Court in Buckley. See Machinists Non-Partisan, 655 F.2d 380, 382, 210 U.S. App. D.C. 267 (D.C. Cir. 1981).
However, it is well established that a complaint should not be dismissed for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of its claim which would entitle it to relief. See e.g. Kowal v. MCI Communications Corp., 305 U.S. App. D.C. 60, 16 F.3d 1271, 1276 (D.C. Cir. 1994) (citations omitted). In the circumstances here, if the Commission were able to establish that, at a particular point in time before GOPAC registered and began reporting, its major objective was, in fact, to elect a particular federal candidate or particular federal candidates, then it should follow that GOPAC was, at that time, a political committee obligated to register and report. The complaint can fairly be construed to permit proof of such an ultimate fact although it does not specifically allege it; therefore, the complaint cannot be dismissed at this time.
In reaching this conclusion I have carefully considered defendant's contention that (1) the term "political committee" requires an organization to have made at least $ 1,000 in "expenditures" or received at least $ 1,000 in "contributions"; and (2) that in order for money spent to be considered an "expenditure" or for money received to be considered a "contribution" within the meaning of those terms as interpreted by the courts, the communication for which the money is spent must "expressly advocate" the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate (i.e. the communication itself must contain words such as "vote for," "vote against," "elect," "support," "cast your ballot for," "Smith for Congress," "defeat," or "reject."). See e.g. Federal Election Commission v. Massachusetts Citizens For Life, 479 U.S. 238, 249, 93 L. Ed. 2d 539, 107 S. Ct. 616 (1986) (citing Buckley, 424 U.S. at 44, n.52). Based on this theory of the law, GOPAC argues that the Commission must ultimately demonstrate that the Campaign for Fair Elections communication itself "expressly advocated" the election or defeat of particular federal candidates. Thus, according to GOPAC, the motion to dismiss should be granted because the Campaign For Fair Elections communication itself does not contain "express advocacy" as that phrase has been defined by controlling case law.
However, Buckley authoritatively establishes that any payment of $ 1,000 or more by an organization whose major purpose has been determined to be the nomination or election of an identified candidate for federal office (as distinguished from an organization which has some other major purpose) is, "by definition, campaign related" and hence, constitutes an "expenditure" by a "political committee." Buckley, 424 U.S. at 79. Therefore, there is no occasion to decide whether the Campaign for Fair Elections communication itself "expressly advocates" the election or defeat of identified federal candidates. Here, the controlling relevant question is not whether the communication "expressly advocates" the election or defeat of such candidates for federal office, but rather whether, at the times in question, the organization's "major purpose. . . [was] the nomination or election" of an identified candidate or Candidates for federal office. Id. That is a factual question, and the complaint, fairly construed, permits proof by the parties focused on that question. It cannot be resolved on the pleadings. Accordingly, the accompanying Order denies the defendant's motion to dismiss Counts 1 and 2, and schedules a status conference to organize further proceedings which should focus on resolving this factual issue.
Defendant has moved for dismissal of Count 3 on the grounds that the Commission failed to follow its own procedures and that, as a result, GOPAC was denied adequate notification of the Count 3 allegations. This issue remains under advisement.
Date: Dec. 23, 1994
Louis F. Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
For the reasons stated in the accompanying, Memorandum, it is this 23rd day of December, 1994, hereby
ORDERED: that defendant's Motion to Dismiss Counts 1 and 2 should be, and is hereby, DENIED; and it is further
NOTICED: that defendant's Motion to Dismiss Count 3 remains under advisement; and it is further
ORDERED: that counsel shall attend a status conference on January 12, 1995 at 1:45 p.m. in Courtroom No. 3.
Louis F. Oberdorfer
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE