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FEC issues an advisory opinion and new reporting rules for independent expenditures and electioneering communications; approves legislative recommendations for 2018; elects officers for 2019

December 13, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission today issued an advisory opinion and approved a Final Rule and Explanation and Justification in connection with the reporting of independent expenditures and electioneering communications. The Commission also approved 11 legislative recommendations for 2018 and meeting dates for the first six months of the next calendar year, and it elected a Chair and Vice Chair for 2019.

Advisory Opinion 2018-15 (Wyden)

The Commission approved Advisory Opinion 2018-15, concluding that Members of Congress may use campaign funds for cybersecurity-related expenses for their personal electronic devices and accounts without such payments constituting an impermissible conversion of campaign funds to personal use, under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations.

Draft Final Rule and Explanation and Justification for REG 2014-02 (Multistate IEs)

The Commission approved the Final Rule and Explanation and Justification to address reporting of independent expenditures and electioneering communications that relate to presidential primary elections and are publicly distributed in multiple states but do not refer to any particular state’s primary election.

2018 Legislative Recommendations.

The Commission unanimously approved 11 legislative recommendations for 2018 to be submitted for consideration to Congress: (1) Electronic Filing of Electioneering Communication Reports; (2) Authority to Create Senior Executive Service Positions; (3) Prohibit Fraudulent PAC Practices (4) Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Campaign Authority; (5) Conversion of Campaign Funds; (6) Prohibit Aiding or Abetting the Making of Contributions in the Name of Another (7) Increase and Index for Inflation Registration and Reporting Thresholds; (8) Increase the In-Home Event Exemption and Unreimbursed Travel Expense Exemption for Candidates and Political Parties; (9) Permit Political Committees to Make Disbursements by Methods Other than Check; (10) Update Citations to Reflect the Recodification of FECA; and (11) Repeal of Convention Funding Provisions Rendered Non-Operational by the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

Fiscal Year 2020 budget amendment request

The Commission discussed but was unable to approve by the required four affirmative votes a budget amendment request in connection with cost savings that occurred as a result of the passage of a new filing provision that requires U.S. Senate candidates and committees to submit reports to the Commission.

2019 meeting dates

The Commission approved an initial schedule of meeting dates for the first half of 2019.

Election of officers

The Commission elected Ellen L. Weintraub as Chair and Matthew S. Petersen as Vice Chair.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-12 (Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc.)

The Commission held over discussion of Advisory Opinion Request 2018-12. Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc. asked whether it or its private sector sponsors and partners may provide candidate and political party committees with certain free resources and training to protect those committees from cyberattack and infiltration.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-13 (OsiaNetwork LLC)

The Commission held over discussion of Advisory Opinion Request 2018-13. OsiaNetwork LLC asked whether individuals’ use of the processing power of their internet-enabled devices to mine cryptocurrency for the benefit of political committees is considered a volunteer activity under Commission regulations.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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