Press Releases

ECU Files FEC Complaint Against McCarthy for Soft Money Violations

Jan 10, 2023

This is the second complaint against McCarthy filed by ECU

End Citizens United (ECU) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Speaker Kevin McCarthy for violating federal law regarding “soft money.” This follows ECU’s complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against McCarthy for using official resources to plan and direct political activity.

The FEC complaint states that McCarthy, in his bid to become the Speaker of the House, directed the spending decisions of Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) as part of a corrupt agreement to win. CLF is a super PAC that is allowed to raise and spend unlimited money with limited restrictions or reporting requirements, also known as so-called “soft money.” As a member of Congress, McCarthy is not allowed to direct soft money funds for federal races.

“Kevin McCarthy was unable to rally his party to elect him as Speaker, until he broke the law,” said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. “The deal he brokered with CLF directed their spending decisions, which is an unambiguous violation of federal law. It was a quid pro quo arrangement. We urge the FEC to begin an investigation into Speaker McCarthy and hold him accountable.”

In the complaint:

  • On January 4, 2022, after multiple rounds of failing to secure enough votes to become Speaker, the “McCarthy endorsed” Super PAC, the Congressional Leadership Fund, announced that it reached an agreement with another conservative Super PAC, Club for Growth, in an apparent effort to appease Republican Members who had refused to vote for McCarthy.

  • Specifically, the Congressional Leadership Fund (“CLF”) publicly agreed not to spend money in any “open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts.” CLF also affirmed that it “will continue to support incumbents in primaries as well as challengers in districts that affect the Majority, which proved to be critical to winning the Majority in 2022.”

  • Reporting on the agreement indicates that Representative McCarthy, and members of his staff, were directly involved in this decision. In particular, news articles called the agreement “a sizable concession for McCarthy” that was intended to “influence particular … congressional races” that “‘likely required sign-off” from Representative McCarthy or his team.”

  • Under the law, federal candidates and officeholders and their agents are prohibited from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending funds in connection with an election for federal office, unless the funds are subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971. “Federal” or “hard money” funds are subject to the Act’s amount limitations, source prohibitions, and reporting requirements while “nonfederal” or “soft money” funds are not.

  • Here, the available information supports the conclusion that McCarthy has violated the soft money provisions. As a super PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund is not subject to the source and amount restrictions of the law. That McCarthy would direct the spending of a federal super PAC to win the House Speakership constitutes a significant violation of the soft money provisions of the Act.

  • The instant circumstances are all the more disturbing given that McCarthy, in seeking the highest position in the House of Representatives, is apparently directing the spending decisions of a soft money group as part of a quid pro quo arrangement to win.

Click here to read the complaint.