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  • Weekly Digests

Week of March 5 - 9, 2018

March 9, 2018

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory Opinions

  • Advisory Opinion 2018-01 (Libertarian Party of Utah). On March 8, the Commission issued an advisory opinion in response to a request from the Libertarian Party of Utah (the Committee). The Commission concluded that the Committee qualifies as a state committee of a political party.

Enforcement

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

MUR 6989

  • COMPLAINANT: American Democracy Legal Fund
  • RESPONDENTS: Benjamin Carson; Carson America, Inc. and Logan D. Delany, Jr., in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Penguin Random House LLC d.b.a. Sentinel (Penguin)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Penguin made and Carson and the Committee accepted prohibited or excessive in-kind contributions when Penguin paid for campaign-related expenses during the promotional tour for Carson’s book. Carson was a 2016 primary election candidate for U.S. President.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed that (1) Penguin’s payments for the promotional activities for Carson’s book were covered by the media exemption and as such did not constitute contributions; (2) Penguin took steps to separate book tour events from campaign events; and (3) to the extent Penguin may have inadvertently paid for activities extending beyond the scope of the media exemption, such payments appeared to be de minimis. Commissioner Lee E. Goodman issued a Concurring Statement.

MUR 7123

  • COMPLAINANT: Washington State Republican Party, by Chairman Susan Hutchison
  • RESPONDENT: Jay Inslee for Washington (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee, a state candidate committee, disbursed impermissible, non-federal funds on a 30-second television advertisement attacking or opposing a clearly identified candidate for federal office: then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed that the committee appeared to have had enough funds that complied with the limitations and prohibitions of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), to fund the advertisement in question.

MUR 7166

  • COMPLAINANT: Marian Krumberger, Chairwoman, Republican Party of Brown County
  • RESPONDENTS: Tom Nelson; Nelson for Wisconsin and Dr. Beth Gillis, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Nelson Committee); and Hillary for America and Jose H. Villarreal, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Clinton Committee). 
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Nelson and the Nelson Committee failed (1) to report independent expenditures for a 31-second television advertisement that expressly advocated then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s defeat and (2) to include a proper disclaimer on the ad. The complaint alleged further that Nelson and the Committee coordinated the advertisement with the Clinton Committee, resulting in Nelson and the Nelson Committee making and the Clinton Committee accepting excessive and unreported in-kind contributions. Nelson was a 2016 candidate for Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the reporting and disclaimer allegations in connection with Nelson and the Nelson Committee. The Commission observed that currently, there is no specific Commission guidance on how spending made by a candidate to support another candidate—assuming such expenditure would be permissible or be an independent expenditure—should be reported, and that there is no information in the record to suggest that the Nelson Committee failed to report the costs of the ad in its regular disclosure reports. The Commission found no reason to believe Nelson and the Nelson Committee made and the Clinton Committee accepted excessive and unreported in-kind contributions in connection with the ad because the complaint failed to allege specific facts related to any of the conduct standards of the Commission’s coordination test.

 MUR 7269

  • COMPLAINANT: Kevin Geiken
  • RESPONDENTS: Young for Iowa and Lisa Ashley, in her official capacity as treasurer (Young Committee); and Representative David Young
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Young Committee and Young failed to report several contributions received in April 2017 from two other committees. Young is a 2018 candidate for reelection in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that the Young Committee failed to timely report the contributions at issue and sent a letter reminding the Young Committee of the requirements in connection with the timely reporting of contributions. The Commission observed that the amount of contributions at issue was modest. The Commission found no reason to believe Young committed a violation in connection with the reporting allegation because the reporting of contributions is the responsibility of the Young Committee treasurer and the available information did not indicate involvement in the reporting on the part of the candidate.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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

ADR 840

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Democratic Party of Arkansas and Dawne Vandiver, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The Committee made a series of reporting errors in the 2015-16 election cycle including excessive, prohibited or other impermissible contributions or transfers, mathematical discrepancies, failure to provide supporting schedules, federal election activities/Levin funds, allocated federal and nonfederal activity, and the failure to properly itemize loans.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to amend relevant reports, certify that a representative of the Committee participated in an FEC conference, webinar or other program developed in consultation with the FEC’s Information Division, and pay a civil penalty of $10,400.

ADR 841

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Michigan Democratic State Central Committee and Sandy O’Brien, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The Committee made a series of reporting errors in the 2015-16 election cycle including excessive, prohibited or other impermissible contributions or transfers, mathematical discrepancies, failure to provide supporting schedules, failure to properly itemize contributions and transfers from political committees, failure to properly itemize disbursements, and allocated federal and nonfederal activity.
  • DISPOSITION: The committee agreed to amend relevant reports, certify that a representative of the Committee participated in an FEC conference, webinar or other program developed in consultation with the FEC’s Information Division, and pay a civil penalty of $8,600.

ADR 842

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Arizona Republican Party and Bob Lettieri, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The Committee made a series of reporting errors in the 2015-16 election cycle including excessive, prohibited or other impermissible contributions or transfers, mathematical discrepancies, failure to provide supporting schedules, failure to properly itemize disbursements, Federal Election Activity/Levin Funds, and allocated federal and nonfederal activity.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to amend relevant reports, certify that two representatives of the Committee participated in an FEC conference, webinar or other program developed in consultation with the FEC’s Information Division, and pay a civil penalty of $23,000.

Litigation

Rulemaking and agency procedures

Press Releases

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

  • March 14, 2018: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.

Upcoming reporting due dates

  • March 20: March Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2018 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming Educational programs

On April 4, the Commission will host FECFile webinars for candidates, PACs and party committees. Additional information is available on the educational outreach page of the Commission website.

Additional research materials

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

The 2017 Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations is available. Other Campaign Guides are available, as well.

The 2018 Congressional Primary Election Dates list is available.

Federal Elections 2016: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is available. The data was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices.

The 2017 edition of the 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.

The 2017 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations can be downloaded from the website.  To order printed copies, call (800) 424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.

The FEC is moving.

This month, the Commission is moving from its current location at 999 E Street, NW, Washington, DC to 1050 First Street, NE, Washington, DC. The Commission will begin receiving mail at its new address on March 19, 2018. 

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 mediums has not been authorized by the FEC.