CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Republican U.S. Senate candidate John Raese lost the election but continues to fight a campaign finance law that cost his $1.2 million campaign $2,500.
Raese, a tea party group and an unsuccessful U.S. House candidate in Massachusetts are all suing the federal government.
Their goal is to loosen, ever so slightly, a law to limit how much newly created political action committees can give to candidates' campaigns.
Right now, certain PACs can give $5,000 to candidates if the PACs do all of three things: receive donations from more than 50 people, give to at least five candidates and exist for at least six months.
The Tea Party Leadership Fund wanted to give Raese and Massachusetts 4th District Republican candidate Sean Bietlat $5,000 for the general election. But the fund had been around for only five months and so was limited to making a $2,500 donation.
Even if Raese, Bielat and the fund win the case, the victory will be somewhat pointless for the three plaintiffs: the two Republicans' campaigns are over, and the fund was already six months old just days after the Nov. 6 election.
But the group's attorney, Stephen Hoersting of D.C.-based DB Capitol Strategies, said the goal was to let future PACs give $5,000 even if they existed for fewer than six months.
The case, which is filed against the Federal Election Commission, is sitting in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Even if the tea party fund wins, the decision won't be "earth shattering," said Paul S. Ryan, a lawyer at The Campaign Legal Center, a public interest law firm in Washington.
The center filed a brief with the FEC to tell the commission it should follow the law that is already on the books. The FEC did. Then Raese, Bielat and the tea party fund sued the FEC in federal court.
Ryan said the case is "pretty small potatoes" compared to Super PACs, which can accept unlimited donations and spend unlimited amounts of money to air election ads but cannot give money directly to individual candidates. So far, Super PACs have reported spending more than $680 million in the 2012 election cycle, according the Center for Responsive Politics.