The reversal of Van Hollen has rendered the pending disclosure case, Hispanic Leadership Fund v. FEC less pressing, though the awaited ruling could still clarify criteria for determining when a political ad triggers disclosure and reporting obligations with the FEC. The Hispanic Leadership Fund (HLF), which filed suit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia on July 30, argues that the ads in question do not refer directly to a candidate, but instead to the "White House" and the "Administration," which should not trigger reporting requirements. The ads also contain audio of President Obama's voice, but do not name the speaker. The HLF, a 501(c)(4) organization, is seeking protection from any enforcement action by the FEC if the group does not file FEC reports for the ads. Sponsors of electioneering communications must file reports to the FEC disclosing sources of receipts; the Hispanic Leadership Fund is claiming that because the ads do not mention a clearly identified candidate, that they do not qualify as electioneering communications and thus are not subject to reporting requirements.
In June, the FEC deadlocked on an Advisory Opinion addressing a similar situation, with the three Democratic commissioners saying that ads criticizing the "White House" and the "Administration" clearly target Obama, and the three Republican commissioners disagreeing. On October 4, the district court ruled that three of the ads were electioneering communications while two of the proposed ads were not. The district court also held that the electioneering provisions of the FECA are constitutional as applied to HLF's proposed ads.