Karl Rove-Led PAC Doesn’t Have to Unmask Dark Money Donor

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Saturday stayed a lower court ruling that would have forced a Karl Rove-led PAC to reveal the identity of a so-called “dark money” donor.

Chief Justice John Roberts issued the stay Saturday without comment after a lower court refused to hear an appeal to the August decision.

The underlying case was initially filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Ohio voter Nicholas Mezlak in late 2012, and was later revived by federal judge in Washington in February 2016.

The plaintiffs sought disclosures regarding Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, Rove’s GOP-focused PAC, which contributed at least $17 million to multiple U.S. Senate races during the 2012 election cycle.

According to the original complaint, the PAC violated campaign finance law when it failed to disclose about $3 million in anonymous money which was raised at a Tampa, Florida fundraiser.

Not disclosing the funds, the complaint said, violates the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.

In its response to the complaint, Crossroads said Rove did not discuss specific independent expenditures with the unnamed donor, and all donations were made on behalf of the organization.

The PAC also said the political ads the watchdog group claimed were funded by the mysterious donation were produced prior to the fundraiser putting them outside of the 1971 law’s purview.

In an August ruling, Chief Judge Beryl Howell sided with the plaintiffs, saying the donation “blatantly undercuts the congressional goal of fully disclosing the sources of money flowing into federal political campaigns” and “suppresses the benefits intended to accrue from disclosure, including informing the electorate, deterring corruption, and enforcing bans on foreign contributions being used to buy access and influence to American political officials.”

Howell ordered the identity of the donor revealed by Monday, a deadline Robert’s stay rendered moot. It is unclear how long the stay will remain in place.

Lawyers for the parties did not immediately respond for a request for comment.

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