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December 4, 1997
For Immediate Publication
Contact: 972/450-8800
Statement from Russell J. Verney, National Coordinator, PEROT '96 on Staff Presentation of Final Audit Report of PEROT '96 To the Federal Elections Commission (FEC)

When the FEC audit staff completed its on-site audit of the PEROT '96 Presidential campaign, they stated that PEROT '96 was the cleanest presidential campaign it had ever audited. In spite of that, today the FEC is considering a finding designed to preclude us from fair and equal treatment under the election laws -- a finding fraught with hypocrisy and based in partisanship.

At issue is the ability of PEROT '96 to continue to pursue litigation initiated prior to the election. Originally, the FEC audit staff advised us we could. But now, political operatives on the FEC say the resources reserved by the campaign to complete litigation cannot be spent. Why? Because it's too late, they say. And why is it too late? Because the FEC's inaction delayed our action.

In the court case brought by PEROT '96 against the FEC and the Commission on Presidential Debates, the FEC was successful in claiming that PEROT '96 could not pursue the case in court prior to the election, until the FEC had the opportunity to review the allegations. So PEROT '96 reserved the funds to continue litigation after the review. The FEC did nothing about the allegations before the election, and now the Democrats and Republicans who make up the Commission claim PEROT '96 cannot pursue its legal rights because it is too late. There is no basis for this finding in law or precedent. It is hypocritical. It is plain silly. And it will not discourage PEROT '96 from pursuing this case in court.

You only have to read the newspapers to know there is extensive documentation to support allegations of widespread illegal foreign, corporate and individual contributions to both the Republican and Democratic campaigns in 1996 through their national committees. Yet, the FEC has never audited either the Republican National Committee nor the Democratic National Committee. Why? Because the laws that govern elections in the United States are administered by those who are subject to them -- Republican and Democratic party functionaries. Citizens are shocked and outraged that these laws are broken every day, but behind-the-scene agreements between the two parties assure that no audits occur and no legal enforcement action is ever taken against them.

When PEROT '96 attempted to address these illegalities, the FEC claimed exclusive jurisdiction, did nothing until after the election, and now says it is too late for reserved funds to be used to try to seek justice for independent and third-party candidates in court. This type of catch-22 decision-making by an utterly political and partisan FEC virtually precludes fair and free elections from taking place in this country. And for that reason, PEROT '96 intends to pursue this matter vigorously in court.