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Judge Tosses Louisiana |GOP Bid to Depose FEC

WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge quashed a request from Republican Party of Louisiana to depose elections officials it accuses of stymieing the electioneering process, ruling the inquiry would be "unduly burdensome."

The Louisiana GOP and two local party committees sued the Federal Elections Commission in August 2015, seeking to invalidate portions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

The plaintiffs claim the Act imposed new contribution and reporting requirements that unnecessarily restrict election activity and violate the First Amendment.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper set up a scheduling order that designated Jan. 29, 2016 as the close of discovery.

However, on Jan. 8, 2016, the plaintiffs noticed a deposition of the Federal Elections Commission.

In their notice, the state GOP and county committees said they wanted to depose federal elections official seeking "evidence of corruption of a federal candidate resulting from 'the types of activities in which plaintiffs seek to engage."

They said they were also seeking "evidence of quid pro quo exchanges by presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and the Republican and Democratic National Committees; evidence of public opinion regarding the causes of the appearance of quid pro quo corruption; studies the FEC has relied on to determine what kind of election spending poses a risk of corruption ... and a few additional matters.'"

The agency immediately filed a motion to quash the deposition.

On March 29, Judge Cooper granted the FEC that relief, finding the proposed deposition "to be unduly burdensome to the FEC in light of the limited evidentiary value of the information sought."

Cooper's finding was based largely on the agency's argument that "plaintiffs' own conduct and representations suggest that its primary purpose is to oppress and inflict undue burden on the FEC while it prepares its defense of this case."

He sound he found the agency's position most persuasive because the plaintiffs themselves "initially told the Court discovery was not necessary."

The plaintiffs responded to the agency's assertion by arguing that '"discovery is a two-way street," and that they need the deposition to obtain information relevant to their case.

But Cooper was not persuaded.

"Given ... that Plaintiffs' written discovery requests largely overlap with their proposed 30(b)(6) matters for examination ... and that Plaintiffs have not seen a need to reference the FEC's written responses in their motion for summary judgment, the Court hesitates to credit Plaintiffs' brand-new representation that a ... deposition is 'pivotally important,'" he wrote.


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