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  • Weekly Digests

Week of May 6 – 10, 2019

May 10, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

On May 9, the Commission held an open meeting.

On May 7 and 9, the Commission met in executive session.

Advisory opinions

Requests considered

  • Advisory Opinion Request 2018-12 (Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc.) At its open meeting on May 9, the Commission discussed and held over a vote on an advisory opinion request from Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc. (DDC) after making public a fourth draft advisory opinion. The request concerns DDC’s proposal to provide or facilitate the provision of certain cybersecurity services, software, and hardware for free or at a reduced cost to federal candidate committees and national party committees on a nonpartisan basis and according to pre-determined, objective criteria. During the discussion, the Commission heard from Counsel for the requestor. On May 6, the Commission received a comment.
  • Advisory Opinion Request 2019-05 (System73) On May 9, the Commission discussed and held over a vote on an advisory opinion request from System73 concerning its proposal to pay a political committee a “license fee” for the exclusive rights to livestream the committee’s political event. During the discussion, the Commission heard from Counsel for the requestor, who granted an extension of time through May 31.

Litigation

Enforcement

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

MUR 6334

  • COMPLAINANT: NGP Software, Inc.
  • RESPONDENT: Aristotle International, Inc. (Aristotle)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Aristotle violated the sale and use provision of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), through a feature called “Relationship Viewer” that was included in Aristotle 360, a commercial software program marketed to political committees. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Aristotle copied information from the FEC’s database into the Relationship Viewer for the purpose of assisting clients with soliciting contributions in violation of the sale and use provision, which directs that FEC data “may not be sold or used by any person for the purpose of soliciting contributions or for commercial purposes, other than using the name and address of any political committee to solicit contributions from such committee.”
  • DISPOSITION: On May 24, 2011, the Commission found reason to believe Aristotle violated the sale and use provision, and on November 19, 2013, the Commission voted to enter into pre-probable cause conciliation. On April 9, 2019, the Commission was equally divided over whether to find probable cause and closed the file. On May 10, Chair Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 6908 (National Republican Congressional Committee and Keith Davis, in his official capacity as treasurer; American Action Network; and American Crossroads and Caleb Crosby, in his official capacity as treasurer). On May 6, Chair Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7183

  • COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
  • RESPONDENTS: Thornton Law Firm LLP, f/k/a Thornton & Naumes LLP (TLF); Michael Thornton; Amy Thornton; Garrett Bradley; and David Strouss
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that TLF made contributions in the name of another by providing so-called bonuses to reimburse nearly $1.6 million in political contributions made by its partners Michael Thornton, Bradley, Strouss, and Amy Thornton, resulting in TLF making excessive contributions to multiple federal committees. The complaint further alleged that the individuals involved knowingly permitted their names to be used to effect contributions in the name of another.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 7414

  • COMPLAINANT: Rita Ramirez
  • RESPONDENTS: Marge Doyle for Congress and Gary Crummitt, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Samuel DeFabbia-Kane
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to itemize bundled contributions received from Act Blue and accepted a contribution from a foreign national, DeFabbia-Kane, residing in Hong Kong. Marge Doyle was a 2018 candidate for California’s 8th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7494

  • COMPLAINANT: Daniel J. Cohen
  • RESPONDENTS: John Culberson; Culberson for Congress and Jennifer Naedler, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Culberson and the Committee impermissibly converted campaign funds to personal use by spending approximately $17,000 for donor and supporter gifts between 2004 and 2018 and approximately $33,000 for books and other research materials between 2009 and 2018. The complaint also alleged that a $375 disbursement made in 2009 for a membership in the Texas State Rifle Association (TSRA), as well as disbursements to the Black Hills Institute totaling $309.66 in July and August 2012, were for Culberson’s personal use.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission dismissed the allegations against Culberson and the Committee, noting that there was no reasonable basis to infer that the Committee expenditures at issue were for personal use rather than for nominal gifts, as permitted under the law. The Commission also noted that the Committee's payment for a membership to the TSRA and its payments to the Black Hills Institute were both beyond the applicable five-year statute of limitations.

MUR 7520

  • COMPLAINANT: Jeffrey Feahr
  • RESPONDENT: Gretchen Driskell for Congress and Jennifer Fairfield, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to report any expenditures for a fundraiser held in May 2015. The Committee maintained that it incurred no expenses for the event because there were no attendees, no food costs, and no required rental or deposit costs for the venue.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities.

Administrative fines

The Commission made public 39 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

AF 3374

Adam Bell Political Campaign and Louis Wiliam Zona, Jr., in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3375

America Comes First PAC and David W. Schamens, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $15,594.

AF 3376

Blacks in Government Political Advancement Council and Joe L. Reed, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $667.

AF 3377

Bold Conservatives PAC and Ryan Zynda, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $2,887.

AF 3378

Committee to Elect HP and Dounia Metouri, in their official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $6,380.

AF 3379

Committee to Elect Mauro Garza for US Congress and Bernardino Rodriguez, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3380

Committee to Elect Stefano De Stefano and Mary Beth Guilbo, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $667.

AF 3381

Cops and Kids Together and Paul Kutac, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $7,508.

AF 3382

Cori Bush for Congress and Cori Bush, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

AF 3383

Finance Committee for Douglas Howard Pierce and Douglas Howard Pierce, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $4,961.

AF 3384

Dr. Kathie Allen for Congress and Kathryn Allen, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $400.

AF 3385

First State Strong FEC and Michael Finnigan, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

AF 3386

Holden 2018 and Viki Coen, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $2,274.

AF 3387

Keatley for Change and Keisha A. Carter, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $958.

AF 3388

Libertarian Party of Illinois and Brian W. Dunn, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,175.

AF 3389

National Independent Automobile Dealers Association PAC Fund and Chris G. Martin, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $106.

AF 3390

NY19Votes and Linda Sakai, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $607.

AF 3391

Patriots for Economic Freedom and Alexander Hornaday, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $329.

AF 3392

Political JAB - Joshua A. Butler and Joshua Butler, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

AF 3394

The Democratic Coalition and Office of Treasurer, in their official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $2,128.

AF 3395

Tim Gomes for Congress and Jennifer May, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $14,885.

AF 3396

Tim Rich for Congress and Timothy A. Rich, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

AF 3398

Williams for West Virginia and Marc E. Williams, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $526.

AF 3399

Americans United in Support of Democracy and Charles Glick, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $769.

AF 3400

It Starts Today and Jonathan Zucker, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $826.

AF 3401

Jill Stein for President and Steven Welzer, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $2,700.

AF 3402

The Republican Party of Fort Bend County Federal Committee and Seth Manish, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $126.

AF 3403

Halverstadt for Congress and Scott Yuhanick, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $278.

AF 3404

Paula Swearengin 2018 and Paula Swearengin, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $664.

AF 3405

Michele for Congress and Merleen Newman, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $7,088.

AF 3406

Solomon for Congress and Robert Charles Solomon, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3407

Jill Stein for President and Steven Welzer, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,548.

AF 3408

Utah State Democratic Committee and Daisy Thomas, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $4,685.

AF 3412

Auto Care Association Political Action Committee and Aaron Lowe, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3480

Auto Care Association Political Action Committee and Aaron Lowe, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $661.

AF 3481

National Pest Management Association Political Committee and Ashley Adams Amidon, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $472.

AF 3489

Crowley Maritime Corporation Federal PAC and Daniel L. Warner, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $667.

AF 3547

Crowley Maritime Corporation Federal PAC and Daniel L. Warner, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,866.

AF 3552

Crowley Maritime Corporation Federal PAC and Daniel L. Warner, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $800.

Regulations and agency procedures

Press releases

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

  • May 21: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
  • May 23: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
  • Future Meeting Dates. On May 9, the Commission approved future meeting dates for open meetings and executive sessions in 2019. Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.

Upcoming reporting due dates

  • May 20, 2019: May Monthly reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming educational programs

  • On May 22, Commission staff will host a webinar for political party committees.
  • On June 12, Commission staff will host a webinar for candidates and their authorized committees.

Additional research materials

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.

Printed copies of the 2018 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are now available. Contact the Commission's Information Division at (202) 694-1100 or (800) 424-9530 (press 6, when prompted) to order printed copies of the CFR at no charge. You may also email the Information Division to place an order at info@fec.gov.

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

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. To order a printed copy, please contact the FEC’s Public Records Office at 800/424-9530 (option 2) or 202/694-1120, or send an email to pubrec@fec.gov.

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.

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.