Supporting Federal Candidates: A Guide For Citizens

Filing a Complaint

If you believe a violation of the Federal campaign finance law has taken place, you may file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Send the Commission a letter explaining why you (the complainant) believe the law may have been violated, describe the specific facts and circumstances and name the individuals or organizations responsible (the respondents). Your complaint should also indicate which allegations are based on personal knowledge rather than on outside sources (for example, newspaper articles). The letter must be sworn to, signed and notarized. Complaints of alleged violations receive case numbers and are called MURs, Matters Under Review. (For more information on how to file a complaint, call the FEC.)

The Commission sends a copy of the complaint to the respondents, who have the opportunity to explain why the Commission should not pursue the complaint (for example, because no violation occurred or because there were mitigating factors). The agency considers the views of both sides and may conduct an investigation to gather facts. Until the MUR is resolved, the Commission must keep all phases of the proceedings confidential, as required by law. After it makes a decision, the agency notifies the complainant and the respondents. The file on the MUR is then made public.

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