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SYKES v. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

JIM SYKES, Plaintiff,
v.
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, et al., Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: EMMET SULLIVAN, District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

I. Introduction

Plaintiff's complaint alleges that provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act, 2 U.S.C. § 431 et seq. (the "Act" or "FECA") "authorize an individual who is not an Alaskan resident to make a campaign contribution (either individually or through a political action committee or senatorial campaign committee) to a candidate seeking election in the November 2, 2004 Alaska general election as Alaska's United States Senator." Compl. ¶ 1. Plaintiff alleges that FECA's authorization of these out-of-state contributions violates his First and Fifth Amendment rights because such interstate contributions result in "excessive expenditures for candidate-voter communication" by plaintiff's opponents which effectively "drown out" plaintiff's communication with Alaska voters and "severely burden the plaintiff's exercise of his right to associate politically with Alaska voters." Compl. ¶ 34.

  Plaintiff seeks: (1) the convening of a three-judge court pursuant to § 403 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and/or certification of questions regarding the constitutionality of the challenged portions of FECA to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. § 437(h); (2) a declaratory judgment that the provisions of FECA which "authorize" non-Alaska residents to make campaign contributions to candidates in Alaska's upcoming general election violate plaintiff's First and Fifth Amendment rights; and (3) a preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining defendants in this action and the members of the classes they represent from making campaign contributions to candidates in Alaska's upcoming general election, and directing defendants to seek the return of any contributions already made. Defendants, individually and collectively, have moved to dismiss plaintiff's complaint for lack of standing and frivolousness.

  II. Background

  A. The Parties

  Plaintiff Jim Sykes ("plaintiff" or "Sykes") is a founding member of the Green Party of Alaska, an officially recognized political party in the State of Alaska. Plaintiff ran unopposed in the August 24, 2004, Alaska primary election for nomination as the Green Party's candidate for election to the United States Senate. Plaintiff's name will appear on the November 2, 2004, Alaska general election ballot. Compl. ¶ 5. Plaintiff's principal opponents in the upcoming election are Lisa Murkowski, the nominee of the Alaska Republican Party, and Tony Knowles, the nominee of the Alaska Democratic Party. See Compl. ¶¶ 7-8; Pl.'s Opp. to FEC's Mot. at 1.

  Defendant Federal Election Commission ("FEC") is the federal agency, established by Congress, with exclusive jurisdiction to administer, interpret, and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, 2 U.S.C. §§ 431-55 (the "Act" or "FECA"). See 2 U.S.C. § 437c (creating the FEC and outlining its structure and purpose); Compl. ¶ 6.

  Defendants National Republican Senatorial Committee ("NRSC") and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee ("DSCC") are committees established, pursuant to FECA, by the National Republican Party and National Democratic Party, respectively, to provide support to each party's candidates seeking election to the United States Senate. Very few individual contributors to NRSC or DSCC are Alaska residents. To date, NRSC has contributed $17,500 to the election campaign of Lisa Murkowski and DSCC has contributed $11,910 to the election campaign of Tony Knowles. Compl. ¶¶ 11-12.

  Defendant Haliburton Company Political Action Committee is a political action committee organized pursuant to FECA though which Haliburton Corporation employees may pool resources and make campaign contributions to candidates they seek to support. No Haliburton employee is a resident of Alaska. To date, HCPAC has contributed $3,000 to Murkowski's campaign. Compl. ¶ 9.

  Defendant Waste Management Employees' Better Government Fund is a political action committee organized pursuant to FECA though which Waste Management Company employees may pool resources and make campaign contributions to candidates they seek to support. No WMC employee is a resident of Alaska. To date, WMEBGF has contributed $1,500 to each of Murkowski's and Knowles' campaigns. Compl. ¶ 10.

  Defendant Jack Valenti is chairman, CEO, and registered lobbyist of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Valenti has contributed $1,000 to Murkowski's election campaign. Valenti is not a resident of Alaska and may not vote in Alaska. Compl. ¶ 7.

  Defendant Michael Berman is a partner in The Duberstein Group, a Washington, DC lobbying firm. Berman has contributed $2,000 to Knowles' election campaign. Berman is not an Alaskan resident and may not vote in Alaska. Compl. ¶ 8. B. The Federal Election Campaign Act

  The Federal Election Campaign Act, as amended most recently by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act ("BCRA"), limits and regulates campaign contributions made by individuals and political committees to candidates seeking Federal Office. See 2 U.S.C. § 441a. Under the limits of FECA, individuals can contribute no more than $2,000 to a single candidate, $5,000 to political action committees, and $25,000 to a political committee established by a national political party (e.g. DSCC and NRSC). §§ 441a(a)(1)(A)-(C). Political committees, under FECA, may contribute up to $5,000 to a ...


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