Democrats file complaint against anti-Reid PAC

If Nevada Democrats had their druthers, the Dump Reid PAC would get a new name.

Today the state Democratic Party lodged a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging Dump Reid and its treasurer, political consultant Chuck Muth, violated naming and disclosure regulations, with his PAC aimed at taking down U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.

The Democrats say PACs, or political action committees, aren’t allowed to use a candidate’s name in their title and that Dump Reid mailers didn’t include proper disclosures.

“The Federal Election Commission and the public need to be made aware of this inability or unwillingness to adhere to the fundamental laws governing PAC names and disclaimers,” Democratic Party Chairman Sam Lieberman said.

Reid, as Senate majority leader, is among the most powerful elected Democrats in the country.

Muth didn’t respond to several calls for comment today.

But Rob Kelner, chairman of the election law group at the Washington, D.C., firm of Covington and Burling, said even if the Democrats are correct, the allegations are trivial.

The clearest allegation from the Democrats is the name claim, which they say violates regulations restricting use of candidate names by PACs unaffiliated with the candidate.

“As campaign finance issues go, it is a pretty technical violation,” said Kelner.

Other allegations in the complaint relate to placement of financial disclosure statements on mailers.

Of those claims Kelner said, “It may be true, but it is incredibly hyper-technical and minor.”

Kelner said election laws are detailed and complex, making it easy to run afoul of a regulation.

“Campaign finance law as you know is incredibly Byzantine,” he said. “It is very easy for, particularly new groups, to make mistakes as they are starting out and it happens all the time.”

It’s unlikely the Democrats’ move will take the edge off Muth, a longtime Nevada conservative consultant whose Web site refers to him as “no better friend, no worse enemy.”

Muth founded Dump Reid in August along with Michigan conservative activist Saul Anuzis, who is running for chairman of the Republican National Committee.

The goal of the PAC is to bring in national money to oppose Reid’s re-election in 2010. Reid is expected to raise as much as $25 million. People who oppose him will need to counter with their own donations to make sure their criticism is heard.

“It takes a lot of money. It is not just a matter of saying our guy is good,” Muth said when he announced the formation of the PAC. “We have to be able to say their guy is bad as well.”

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at or 702-477-3861.