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  • Weekly Digests

Week of August 17-21, 2020

August 21, 2020

Commission meetings and hearings

On August 18, the Commission met in executive session.

Enforcement

The Commission made public eight closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MURs 7190 & 7208

COMPLAINANTS: Steve Harrison, Chair of Alaska Veterans Party; Citizens for Joe Miller, Inc.; and Julie Hamm
RESPONDENTS: Alaska Republican Party and Donald Handeland, in his official capacity as treasurer (ARP); Chairman Tuckerman Babcock; Vice Chairman Rick Whitbeck; Senator Lisa Murkowski; Lisa Murkowski for U.S. Senate and Catherine Straub, in her official capacity as treasurer (Murkowski Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaints in these matters alleged that ARP used $354,007 in funds transferred to it from the Murkowski Committee, the principal campaign committee of Senator Lisa Murkowski, to make coordinated party expenditures in connection with the 2016 general election, which resulted in excessive in-kind contributions to Murkowski and the Murkowski Committee in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act). The complaints also alleged that neither the Murkowski Committee nor ARP properly disclosed the transactions in question. The complaint in MUR 7208 further alleged that ARP failed to include disclaimers in its communications indicating that Murkowski or the Murkowski Committee had authorized them.
DISPOSITION: On August 20, 2019, the Commission found no reason to believe that the Murkowski Committee and ARP violated the Act by not properly disclosing the transfers. The Commission found reason to believe that ARP had failed to include a proper disclaimer in its communications. ARP entered into a conciliation agreement with the Commission where it agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4,200.

MUR 7644

COMPLAINANT: Christopher Watson
RESPONDENTS: Matt Prosch for Congress and Barry Gronke Jr., in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Matt Prosch
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Matt Prosch, a candidate from Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District in 2018, failed to file a timely Statement of Candidacy and that the Committee did not file a Statement of Organization within the required time after he became a candidate. It further alleged that the Committee failed to file regular disclosure reports with the Commission, and failed to include required disclaimers on its campaign signs.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission noted the low dollar amounts at issue and the Committee’s representation that it had taken remedial actions.

MUR 7662

COMPLAINANT: Paul Yang
RESPONDENTS: Dr. Lisa Sparks for Congress and Lisa Sparks, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Elena Bethea
SUBJECT: The Complaint alleged that the Committee accepted a contribution in the name of another by suggesting that Bethea, Sparks’s daughter, made a $2,800 contribution to the Committee, but did not have the resources to do so because she is a full-time student. Sparks is a 2020 House candidate from California’s 45th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission noted the modest amount at issue and the speculative nature of the allegations.

MUR 7665

COMPLAINANT: Tiffany Muller
RESPONDENT: McSally for Senate, Inc. and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee violated the reporting requirements of the Act by failing to disclose employer and occupation information for at least 627 contributors on the Committee’s 2019 October Quarterly Report.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed that the Committee had taken steps to obtain the required disclosure information.

MUR 7699

COMPLAINANT: Joanna Opela
RESPONDENTS: Church for Wisconsin and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Jason Church
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Church, a candidate for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District Special Election in 2020, improperly filed his Statement of Candidacy, that the Committee improperly filed its Statement of Organization and failed to file its 2019 Year-End Report. The complaint further alleged that the Committee included inadequate disclaimers on TV and radio ads, yard signs, and social media posts.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed the technical nature of the allegations and that the Committee had apparently taken steps to comply with the Act and Commission regulations.

MUR 7702

COMPLAINANT: Joanna Opela
RESPONDENTS: Tricia Zunker for Wisconsin and Paul DeMain, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Tricia Zunker
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Zunker, a candidate for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District Special Election in 2020, improperly filed her Statement of Candidacy, and the Committee improperly filed its Statement of Organization and failed to file its 2019 Year-End financial disclosure report. The complaint further alleged that the Committee included inadequate disclaimers on yard signs and social media posts.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed the technical nature of the allegations and that the Committee had apparently since taken steps to comply with the Act and Commission regulations.

MUR 7704

COMPLAINANT: Joanna Opela
RESPONDENT: Tiffany for Wisconsin, Inc. and Fred Koth, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Tom Tiffany
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Tiffany, a candidate for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District Special Election in 2020, improperly filed his Statement of Candidacy, and the Committee improperly filed its Statement of Organization and failed to file its 2019 Year-End financial disclosure report. The complaint further alleged that the Committee included inadequate disclaimers on TV and radio ads, yard signs, and social media posts.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed that the allegations were technical in nature and that the Committee had apparently since taken steps to comply with the Act and Commission regulations.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The Commission made public one closed case, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

ADR 947

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Build the Wave and Nathan Lerner, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether the Committee failed to timely file one 24-Hour Report totaling $55,041.00 to support 54 independent expenditures disclosed on its Amended 2018 30 Day Post-General Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) participate in an FEC training program, 2) develop and certify implementation of a compliance operations manual which includes internal controls, and 3) pay a civil penalty of $4,125.

Litigation

FEC v. Johnson (Case No. 15-439) On August 19, the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah entered a Consent Judgment, resolving the case between the Commission and Defendant Jeremy Johnson.

Upcoming Commission meetings

September 22, 2020: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

Upcoming reporting due dates

September 20: September Monthly reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2020 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming educational programs

September 1-2, 2020: The Commission will host Independent Expenditure and Pre-Election Communication webinars.

September 23-24, 2020: The Commission will host reporting and FECFile webinars for candidates, PACs and political party committees.

Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

Updated election dates

For the latest reporting updates, please visit the Commission’s Dates and deadlines web page.

Status of agency operations

See the Commission’s statement on the status of agency operations, updated on August 10, 2020. At this stage, most agency staff remain in telework status and the Commission’s office remains closed to visitors.

Additional research materials

Contribution Limits. In addition to the current limits, the Commission has posted an archive of contribution limits that were in effect going back to the 1975-1976 election cycles.

Federal Elections 2018: Election Results for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is available. The data was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices.

FEC Notify: Want to be notified by email when campaign finance reports are received by the agency? Sign up here.

Additional research materials about the agency, campaign finance information, and election results are available through the Library section of the Commission website.

The 2019 Combined Federal State Disclosure and Election Directory is available. This publication identifies the federal and state agencies responsible for the disclosure of campaign finances, lobbying, personal finances, public financing, candidates on the ballot, election results, spending on state initiatives and other financial filings.

The FEC Record is available as a continuously updated online news source.

Other election-related resources

Videos on protecting U.S. elections. The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides videos designed to help political campaigns protect themselves from foreign influence. The 2019 videos offer guidance on ransomware, business email compromise, supply chain, social media literacy, and foreign influence operations. Other videos, released in 2018, include cyber hygiene topics such as social engineering, patching, router hardening, and app and browser safety.

Join the FEC on Twitter and YouTube

Follow @FEC on Twitter to receive the latest information on agency updates, news releases, and weekly activity. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, FECTube: FECConnect on Demand, to watch instructional videos that have been designed to help candidates and committees comply with federal campaign finance laws. Note that the FEC is not currently available through other social media platforms at this time. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.

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