WASHINGTON The Federal Election Commission must begin work on writing tougher campaign finance rules to govern the 2006 elections after a federal appeals court declined to intervene in a challenge.

In a one-page order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit declined to reconsider a decision requiring the FEC to write new rules to carry out a 2002 campaign finance law.

The FEC requested the full court's review in August after a three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's 2004 ruling striking down several FEC rules interpreting the new law.

Commissioner Michael Toner (search) said Friday's order means the FEC must start drafting tougher rules on political donations, including how Internet activity will be regulated. The FEC could still appeal to the Supreme Court, but has not indicated whether it will do so.

The law, approved by Congress and signed by President Bush (search) in 2002, bans congressional and presidential candidates and national party committees from raising corporate and union money. It also bans unlimited donations from any source.

The law also bans the use of corporate and union money for election-time ads, among other new limits.

Kollar-Kotelly struck down more than a dozen commission regulations that she said opened loopholes for savvy political players to exploit. The law's sponsors, including Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Marty Meehan, D-Mass., had sued to try to force the FEC to write stronger regulations.

"I'm very disappointed in the circuit court ruling, but I respect and accept the court's decision," said Toner, a Bush appointee, on Monday. "The FEC has an institutional obligation to revisit all the regulations at issue and to do so as soon as possible."

The FEC consists of three Democrats and three Republicans appointed by the president.