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Week of July 22 – 26, 2019 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory opinions

Opinions Issued

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-11 (Pro-Life Democratic Candidate PAC)

On July 25, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from the Pro-Life Democratic Candidate PAC, a nonconnected political committee. The Commission concluded that contributions to a draft fund established by the PAC would be attributable only to the original contributor and not to the PAC because the PAC would exercise no direction or control over the choice of the recipient candidate of the funds, and that it is permissible for the PAC to designate a specific candidate to serve as the default recipient of the funds instead of offering refunds if no Democratic Presidential candidate meets the criteria to receive the earmarked contributions.

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-13 (MJ for Texas)

On July 25, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Mary Jennings (MJ) Hegar, a candidate for the U.S. Senate. The Commission concluded that campaign funds may be used to pay for the portion of the candidate’s full-time daycare expenses that are the direct result of campaign activity and thus would not exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign.

Advisory Opinion Request Discussed

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-10 (Price for Congress)

On July 25, the Commission discussed a draft of an advisory opinion in response to a request from Price for Congress, the principal campaign committee of former Representative Dr. Thomas Price, but held over a vote on the matter. The requestor asks whether it may contribute committee assets to a non-profit organization and whether that organization may engage in certain activities if Dr. Price will serve as its president and CEO. Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen and Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter issued a statement.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7286

  • COMPLAINANT: Sarah Pickerel, Republican Party of Kentucky
  • RESPONDENT: Indivisible Kentucky, Inc.
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Indivisible Kentucky, a 501(c)(4) organization, made disbursements in July 2017 for two billboards expressly advocating the defeat of Senator Mitch McConnell but failed to report those payments as independent expenditures and include disclaimers on its internet communications. The complaint also alleged that Indivisible Kentucky knowingly and willfully failed to disclose the identity of donors who made contributions to fund the independent expenditures.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that Indivisible Kentucky failed to file reports of independent expenditures and failed to identify contributors who made contributions to further billboards. After additional consideration of the matter, the Commission voted to take no further action and issued a letter cautioning Indivisible Kentucky to take steps to ensure that it complies with reporting requirements for independent expenditures.

MUR 7293

  • COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
  • RESPONDENTS: Ryan Zinke; Zinke for Congress and Lorna Kuney, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Zinke Victory Fund and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer (ZVF); Lolita C. Zinke; Frank Haughton, Jr.; and F. Edward Buttrey
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee reported funds it received from ZVF, a joint fundraising committee, three months late, and that its disclosure reports failed to itemize individual contributions received via the transfers from ZVF. The complaint further alleged that the Committee received an excessive contribution from Haughton through ZVF and that Ryan Zinke, a 2016 candidate for Montana’s At-Large Congressional District, violated the personal use prohibition in connection with the purchase and sale of a recreational vehicle and through disbursements that the Committee made after he resigned from Congress and was nominated and confirmed as Secretary of the Interior.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that Haughton made or the Committee accepted an excessive contribution, as the contribution at issue was designated for both the 2016 and the 2018 election cycles, and the Committee later refunded $2,700 to Haughton because Zinke was not going to be a candidate in the 2018 general election. The Commission also found no reason to believe that Ryan or Lolita Zinke or the Committee violated the personal use prohibition with respect to the purchase and resale of the recreational vehicle because the Commission noted that the difference between the sale and appraisal prices of the vehicle was not substantial. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegations with respect to reporting requirements, noting that the Committee appeared to have reported receipt of transfers from ZVF in a timely manner and that the Committee filed an amended report to correct errors in the report. The Commission also exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that the Committee and the Zinkes violated the personal use prohibition regarding disbursements made by the Committee after Zinke had resigned from Congress, noting that the available record appeared to indicate that the disbursements in question were made in connection with campaign expenses, Zinke’s officeholder duties, or winding-down costs.

MUR 7421

  • COMPLAINANT: David C. Thompson
  • RESPONDENTS: Cramer for Senate and Christopher M. Marston, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Kevin Cramer; and Kris Cramer
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Rep. Cramer, his wife Kris Cramer, and the Committee converted campaign funds to personal use. The complaint also alleged that the Committee failed to report advance payments that the Cramers made for travel expenses and failed to timely reimburse the Cramers for those advance payments.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that the Committee or the Cramers violated the Act by converting campaign funds to personal use, noting that the complaint failed to provide additional information to support the allegation. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that the Committee failed to properly report in-kind contributions from the Cramers for travel expenses. The Commission noted that there was not sufficient information in the record to determine that the Cramers advanced personal funds for travel and travel-related subsistence expenses that were not timely reimbursed, and that even if the Committee did not reimburse the expenses in a timely manner, the available record suggested that the amount of any advance payments that were not reimbursed within the required time frame were likely de minimis.

MUR 7492

  • COMPLAINANT: Scott D. Miller
  • RESPONDENTS: John Cumming; Kristi Cumming; Shane Cumming; Carina Cumming; Quinn Cumming; Representative Ben McAdams; and Friends of Ben McAdams and Patrice Arent, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Rep. McAdams and the Committee accepted unreported contributions by failing to make disbursements related to a bus used for campaign travel. The complaint also alleged that John and Kristi Cumming may have made contributions in the names of their three minor children. Rep. McAdams was a 2018 candidate from Utah’s 4th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that the Committee failed to report disbursements in connection with the rental of the bus or that it failed to report in-kind contributions because the Committee did disclose payments with respect to the rental of the bus on its campaign finance reports. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegations that John and Kristi Cumming made excessive contributions in the name of another through their minor children, given the circumstances of this case, including the amounts at issue, the children’s ages, the timing of the contributions, and that the children used funds from bank accounts in their own names and not proceeds from gifts made for the purpose of making the contributions at issue.

MUR 7493

  • COMPLAINANT: Joanna Saccone
  • RESPONDENTS: Committee to Elect Suraj Patel and Nayna Patel, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee);and Suraj Patel
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Suraj Patel and the Committee spent general election funds on primary election expenses and failed to demonstrate that the Committee maintained adequate cash-on-hand prior to the primary election. Patel was a 2018 candidate from New York’s 12th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

Audits

  • Final Audit on the Oklahoma Democratic Party. On July 23, the Commission issued the Final Audit Report of the Commission on the Oklahoma Democratic Party covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. The Commission approved findings related to misstatement of financial activity, misstatement of Levin Fund activity, recordkeeping for employees, and reporting of debts and obligations.
  • Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association PAC. On July 25, the Commission approved an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association PAC covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2016. The Commission approved findings relating to misstatement of financial activity, receipt of prohibited contributions, recordkeeping for receipts, disclosure of receipts, and untimely deposit of receipts.

Litigation

Regulations and Agency Procedures

Press Releases

FEC Approves Two Advisory Opinions, Audit Recommendation Memorandum, and Notification of Availability, Discusses Rulemaking (Issued July 25)

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

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

Upcoming reporting due dates

  • July 31: Mid-Year reports are due. For more information on semi-annual reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Semi-Annual Reporting page of the Commission website. Staff in the Reports Analysis Division and Electronic Filing Office will be available until 8:00 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, July 31 to answer questions regarding the content and filing of reports.

Upcoming educational programs

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 2019 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are 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 [email protected]

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.

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 [email protected]

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.

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