WASHINGTON (CN) - The Republican National Committee sued the Federal Election Commission, claiming that campaign finance regulations preventing it from establishing non-contribution accounts that can soak up unlimited donations used to make "independent expenditures," violates the GOP's constitutional rights.
The RNC, Chairman Reince Priebus, the Republican Party of Louisiana (LAGOP), and other Louisiana branches of the party claim that several provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 are unconstitutional.
The provisions at issue prohibit national and state party committees from forming non-contribution accounts and soliciting for such accounts belonging to non-party-connected groups by national party officers.
The law also regulates the independent federal election activity of state and local party committees.
"Despite having no cognizable anti-corruption interest in restricting independent activities, the government restricts certain independent activities plaintiffs wish to do - in challenged BCRA provisions," the complaint states.
The Republicans claim the regulations violate the First Amendment.
"FEC's [non-contribution account] Guidance recognizes the right of nonconnected political committees to form NCAs, but 'nonconnected political committee' is defined to exclude party committees: 'A nonconnected committee is a political committee that is not a party committee, an authorized committee of a candidate or a separate segregated fund established by a corporation of labor organization,'" the complaint states.
The RNC and Louisiana Republicans claim they are risking criminal prosecution by setting up such accounts to make their desired independent expenditures.
"RNC and LAGOP reasonably believe that some of their contributors will contribute to an RNC NCA and an LAGOP NCA, in amounts above the current contribution limits, if the judicial relief sought herein is granted," the complaint states.
It adds: "Plaintiffs Priebus and RNC want to form RNC's NCA as soon as possible and begin soliciting and raising funds without contribution limits in the NCA for making independent expenditures and independent communications naming federal candidates. Priebus and RNC intend in 2014 to use RNC's NCA to conduct this independent activity in select U.S. Senate and House races. They intend in 2016 to conduct this independent activity in select U.S. Senate and House races as well to support the Republican nominee for President. They intend to do materially similar independent activity in the future."
The Louisiana Republicans claim they want to establish a non-contribution account "as soon as possible and begin soliciting and raising funds without contribution limits in the NCA for making independent expenditures and independent communications naming federal candidates."
The complaint adds: "In 2014, [Republican Party of Louisiana Chairman Roger] Villere and LAGOP intend to use LAGOP's NCA to conduct this independent activity to support the Republican opponent of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, who is up for election in November 2014, as well as selected Republican candidates for Congress."
These pesky regulations, the Republicans claim, limit the party's free speech rights by limiting the party's election activity.
"An example of the sort of independent federal election activity they wish to do without having to use federal funds is LAGOP's plans to make independent communications to support the Republican opponent of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, who is up for election in November 2014, that criticize her support for certain government policies, such as Obamacare, without expressly advocating her defeat," the complaint states.
The Republicans say they "will face a credible threat of prosecution if they proceed with their intended activities," and want a three-judge panel to declare the regulations unconstitutional.
The Republicans are represented by James Bopp Jr. of Terre Haute, Ind.