A group called the “Stop Hillary PAC” is pointedly refusing to change its name after the Federal Election Commission (FEC) said it could be running afoul of campaign finance laws by using former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name without her authorization.
In an April 27 letter, the FEC wrote to Dan Backer, counsel for the group, pointing out that the name of the group included a name of a candidate but did not appear to be an authorized committee of the candidate.
An FEC official told the group to file an amendment if they were authorized by the candidate, or to change the name of the committee so it did not include the candidate’s name “and/or provide further clarification regarding the nature of your committee.”
Federal law says that no “unauthorized” committee can include the name of a candidate in its name, but that an exception is made if the name is “in the title of a special project name or other communication if the title clearly and unambiguously shows opposition to the named candidate.”
In response, Mr. Backer asked in a letter this week who on the commission believed that “Stop Hillary” was an authorized committee of any candidate, particularly Mrs. Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner, given that the group had already filed a complaint with the FEC involving Mrs. Clinton and a super PAC supporting her candidacy.
“This committee is unsure, considering the choice to include the verb ‘STOP’ in the committee’s name, followed by the clear object sought to be stopped, ‘Hillary,’ what further clarification could possibly make clearer the committee’s lack of candidate authorization and, in fact, its open, aggressive, and blatantly obvious opposition to, Hillary Clinton,” he wrote.
“This committee would encourage the FEC to vigorously investigate who it is that is so stupid that they would think a political committee named ‘Stop Hillary PAC’ is in any way an authorized committee of Hillary Clinton,” the letter continues.
He went on to say that since the committee filed before Mrs. Clinton declared her own candidacy, Mrs. Clinton was invited to “make any necessary name changes to alleviate whatever apparent confusion has befuddled the commission.”
“Finally, in anticipation of any further harassment of this Committee by partisan agents of any federal candidate intent on hypocritically gagging the opposition, the Committee preemptively advises that it is unaware of any effort by Sir Edmund Hillary to seek federal office, despite the precedent set by the Commission in FEC AO 2011-15 to allow a non-US citizen to run for President (though not participate in matching funds),” the letter concluded. “In any event, the committee invites the commission to clarify which particular images on its website the commission thinks bear a resemblance to the rugged Sir Edmund (or his now-rotting, desiccated corpse).”
An FEC spokesman said via email that they don’t comment on particular matters before the commission, but that generally speaking, failure to adequately respond to a Request for Additional Information and failure to comply with provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act and agency regulations could result in enforcement action by the commission.
The Center for Public Integrity also reported that a similar group, called the “Just Say No to Hillary PAC,” responded to a similar request by saying the name makes clear they are opposed to Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy.