A Democratic super PAC filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday, seeking to force officials to take action against Donald J. Trump for all but running for president in 2024 without having declared himself a candidate.
The suit comes more than four months after the group, American Bridge, lodged a complaint with the F.E.C. against Mr. Trump. The complaint argues that he has been behaving like a 2024 presidential candidate while avoiding the oversight of the commission by not filing a statement of candidacy.
For a year, Mr. Trump has held rallies across the country that are ostensibly for Republicans running in local, statewide and congressional races, but during which he talks about himself. He has also given several interviews in which he has sounded like a candidate. When Mr. Trump will make a formal announcement remains uncertain, but he has accelerated his campaign planning in hopes of blunting damaging revelations from investigations into his attempts to overturn his defeat in the 2020 election.
The group alleges in the lawsuit, filed in Washington, that the agency’s inaction has allowed Mr. Trump to have an advantage as a candidate without a formal campaign committee.
“The goal and effect of Mr. Trump’s efforts is to disguise his run for the presidency,” the suit reads, leaving the group and voters “in the dark about the contributions and expenditures he has received, which is information they are entitled to.”
Donald Trump, Post-Presidency
The former president remains a potent force in Republican politics.
His continued fund-raising for his political groups in this manner “provides him with a competitive edge” over his Democratic opponent, whom American Bridge plans to support, the lawsuit says.
The group called on the F.E.C. to take action against Mr. Trump within 30 days. The suit suggests that additional action should be taken against both Mr. Trump and the commission if the agency does nothing.
The F.E.C. did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Lawyers for American Bridge said in the suit that had the agency acted swiftly on their complaint in March, Mr. Trump would have been required to register a principal campaign committee and disclose his campaign activities in a series of reports. They also said that Mr. Trump’s PAC, Save America, is spending money to support candidate-related activities the former president has been engaging in for a year. The group argued that it was at a disadvantage in its efforts to engage in the kind of opposition research it normally conducts, because Mr. Trump is not being subjected to the type of disclosures the commission requires from candidates.
The lawsuit compiled some of the remarks the former president made in recent months that hinted at another run for the White House.
In January, when Mr. Trump was introduced at his golf course as the 45th president of the United States, he responded, according to the lawsuit, “the 45th and 47th.” It also notes that he told a conservative group in February that “we’re going to be doing it again a third time” and referred to his wife, Melania Trump, as “the future first lady.”
In a July interview with New York magazine, Mr. Trump said that “in my own mind, I’ve already made that decision, so nothing factors in anymore.”
A spokesman for Mr. Trump did not respond to a request for comment.
It is unclear whether the suit will work through the courts fast enough to have any effect on either the commission or Mr. Trump. There have been a handful of suits seeking to force an increasingly slow F.E.C. to take action on various campaign finance matters. Many of those suits are still pending.