Libertarian Party sues FEC over bequests

For Immediate Release Thursday, March 17, 2011

WASHINGTON – The Libertarian National Committee (LNC) is challenging certain aspects of the McCain-Feingold political speech restrictions in a new lawsuit filed today against the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

In 2007, a Libertarian Party supporter passed away, leaving the party over $217,000 in his will — an amount over seven times the maximum annual federal contribution limit. Under the speech restrictions challenged today, the party must wait years to fully access this contribution.

As interpreted by the FEC, federal contribution limits that restrict what individuals may donate to political parties are applied not only to living individuals, but also to estates of those who have passed away. Individuals wishing to remember a political party are treated as though they would corrupt the political system from beyond the grave, and are thus barred from leaving their desired political legacy.

Moreover, political parties are not allowed to solicit bequests exceeding contribution limits, even though such bequests, when made, are parceled out over a period of years subject to annual contribution limits.

Alan Gura, of Gura & Possessky, PLLC, attorney for the LNC, said, “A promise to donate money upon one’s passing cannot corrupt the political process. The government has no interest interfering in people’s decisions to leave an ideological legacy.”

LNC Chair Mark Hinkle said, “The rule against solicitations is a violation of our free speech rights. Even if the contribution limits are upheld, a bequest can be paid out over time, but we’re not allowed to ask a potential donor for that money? It doesn’t make any sense.”

The lawsuit is pending before the federal district court in Washington, D.C. Click here to view the LNC’s complaint.

The LP is America’s third-largest political party, founded in 1971. The Libertarian Party stands for free markets, civil liberties, and peace. You can find more information on the Libertarian Party at our website .