DENVER (CN) – The 10th Circuit dismissed a political financier’s claim that federal law bars the U.S Attorney General from investigating or prosecuting criminal campaign-finance violations without a referral from four federal election commissioners.
Judge Lucero ruled that the attorney general has a “well-established power to investigate and litigate all federal crimes.”
Though the Federal Election Campaign Act “establishes a mechanism through which the (Federal Election Commission) may refer matters for criminal investigation,” Lucero added, it in no way limits the attorney general’s authority to prosecute campaign-finance violations.
Petitioner Barry Bialek claimed the attorney general targeted him in November 2005 as part of a “politically motivated investigation” into support of 2004 presidential candidate John Edwards.
The investigation was initiated and conducted solely by the Justice Department, with no assistance from the election commission. Bialek claimed this violated federal law.
“If Congress thought that the usual protections would be insufficient in criminal campaign finance cases,” Lucero said, “it easily could have drafted statutory language to that effect. Finding no such language in the Act or its amendments, we conclude that Bialek’s interpretation of the statute is meritless.”