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Week of August 26 – 30, 2019 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory opinions

Request Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-17 (Government Accountability Institute)

On August 26, 2019, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2019-17. The requestor, the Government Accountability Institute, asks whether its articles and commentary on issues relating to government corruption and fraud qualify for the media exemption from the definitions of “contribution,” “expenditure,” and “electioneering communication.” The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than September 5, 2019) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by October 18, 2019.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7148

COMPLAINANT: Kim Savage
RESPONDENTS: Liberty Principles PAC, Inc. and Dan Proft, in his official capacity as treasurer (Liberty Principles); Khouri for Congress and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer (Khouri Committee); Tonia Khouri; Local Government Information Services, Inc. (LGIS); and Locality Labs, LLC (Local Labs)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Liberty Principles violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), by making in-kind contributions to the Khouri Committee in the form of coordinated communications that republished Khouri Committee campaign materials in a format designed to look like local community newspapers. The complaint further alleged that the Khouri Committee accepted and failed to report the in-kind contributions. Tonia Khouri was a 2016 candidate for Illinois’s 11th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed the modest amounts at issue and that there was insufficient information to infer that LGIS (which published the materials in question), Local Labs (which was contracted by LGIS), or Liberty Principles coordinated the content of its publications with the Khouri Committee.

MUR 7384

COMPLAINANT: Donald Scott Priest
RESPONDENTS: Andrew Janz for Congress and Jay Petterson, in his official capacity as treasurer (Janz Committee); and Santa Clara County United Democratic Campaign and Prameela Bartholomeusz, in her official capacity as treasurer (Santa Clara Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that a handwritten postcard supporting the election of Andrew Janz, a 2018 candidate for California’s 22nd Congressional District, did not contain a required disclaimer and constituted either an undisclosed in-kind contribution or unreported activity by the Janz Committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegations in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7448

COMPLAINANT: Thomas J. Anderson
RESPONDENTS: California Democratic Party and Katherine Moret, in her official capacity as treasurer (CDP); Citizens for Waters and David Gould, in his official capacity as treasurer (Waters Committee); and Kamala Harris for Senate and Stephen J. Kaufman, in his official capacity as treasurer (Harris Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that a slate mailer paid for by the Waters Committee and CDP resulted in an excessive contribution to the Harris Committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that the Waters Committee and CDP made or the Harris Committee accepted excessive contributions. The Commission noted that (1) CDP used its coordinated party expenditure limitations to pay approximately $35,000 for the cost of the mailer on behalf of the Harris Committee and reported the payments, (2) this payment did not cause CDP to exceed its coordinated party expenditure limit for the 2016 California Senate election, and (3) the Waters Committee was timely reimbursed (CDP reimbursed the Waters Committee for the mailer within two days of the Waters Committee’s request for reimbursement and two weeks before the mailer was distributed), so the mailer did not constitute an in-kind contribution to the Harris Committee.

MUR 7503

COMPLAINANT: Kansas Democratic Party
RESPONDENTS: Kansas Republican Party and Richard L. Todd, in his official capacity as treasurer (The Party); and Congressional Leadership Fund and Caleb Crosby, in his official capacity as treasurer (CLF)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that CLF made, and the Party accepted and failed to report, a prohibited in-kind contribution in the form of a coordinated communication, citing the appearance by the then-Party Secretary in a television ad paid for by CLF.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in furtherance of Commission priorities. The Commission observed that the information indicated that Party Secretary appeared in CLF’s ad in a personal capacity and not as a representative of the Party.

MUR 7533

COMPLAINANT: Selina Vickers
RESPONDENTS: Unknown Respondent; Rupert Phillips; and Richard Abraham
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that an unknown respondent created and distributed signs opposing a congressional candidate that failed to contain a disclaimer.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7541

COMPLAINANT: Libertarian Party of Ohio
RESPONDENT: Columbus Metropolitan Club (CMC); Rick Neal for Congress and Jason H. Calhoun, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Stivers for Congress and Matthew J. Yuskewich, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that a candidate debate sponsored by CMC featuring Stivers and Neal, two 2018 candidates for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, violated the Act since CMC invited only major-party candidates and excluded Libertarian Party candidate Jonathan Miller. The complaint alleged that by excluding Miller, CMC made and the Stivers and Neal Committees received impermissible corporate contributions.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegations that CMC and the Neal and Stivers Committees violated the Act’s prohibition on making and receiving corporate contributions. The Commission observed that (1) Miller was no longer a candidate under the Act when the debate took place, (2) the amount of potential contributions from CMC to the Stivers and Neal Committees was relatively modest, (3) the record was not clear as to what criteria CMC used to select the debate participants, and (4) the potential violations did not warrant further expenditure of Commission resources.

MUR 7597

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Texas Democratic Party and Gilberto Hinojosa, 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 there was reason to believe the Committee failed to report joint fundraising receipts from the Hillary Victory Fund and transfers to the Democratic National Committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $17,000.

MUR 7617

COMPLAINANT: Angie Hall
RESPONDENTS: Supporters of Judy Herschel and Judith Herschel, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Rachel Thomas
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee reported 20 in-kind contributions from Thomas, an attorney, and that the value of those services exceeded the individual contribution limit. Judith Herschel was a 2018 candidate for Pennsylvania’s 10th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 6932 (Hillary Rodham Clinton; Hillary for America and Jose H. Villarreal, in his official capacity as treasurer; Ready PAC and Amy Wills Gray in her official capacity as treasurer ; and Unknown Respondent. On August 30, Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen and Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7416 (Unknown respondents). On August 30, Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen and Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7432 (John James for Senate, Inc. and Timothy Caughlin, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Outsider PAC and Julie Dozier, in her official capacity as treasurer. On August 30, Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen and Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter issued a Statement of Reasons.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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

ADR 905

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Ohio Majority Trust and Scott Pullins, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine if the Committee failed to file a 48-Hour Report totaling $35,000 supporting an independent expenditure disclosed on the Committee’s 2017 Year-End Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to participate in an FEC conference, webinar, or other program and to pay a civil penalty of $1,750.

ADR 909

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Win Justice and Deepak Pateriay, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine if the Committee failed to file a 48-Hour Report totaling $48,682.53 supporting an independent expenditure disclosed on the Committee’s 2018 October Quarterly Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to develop and certify implementation of a compliance operations manual that will include procedures for determining and disclosing independent expenditures, and to pay a civil penalty of $2,450.

Regulations and Agency Procedures

On August 28, the Commission published three Rulemaking Petitions in the Federal Register: 1) a Rulemaking Petition and Notification of Availability on Party Segregated Accounts; 2) a Rulemaking Petition and Notification of Availability on Requiring Reporting of Exchanges of Email Lists; and 3) a Rulemaking Petition and Notification of Availability on Filing Dates for Unauthorized Political Committees. The Commission seeks comments on all three petitions by October 28, 2019. Comments must be in writing and the Commission encourages the public to submit comments electronically on the Commission’s website at http://www.fec.gov/fosers.

Commissioner Statements

On August 26, Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen submitted his Letter of Resignation.

On August 26, Chair Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement on Departure of Vice Chairman Petersen.

On August 26, Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter issued a Statement on Departure of Vice Chairman Petersen and Loss of Quorum.

Litigation

CREW, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 19-1650) On August 23, Plaintiffs filed a Response to the Commission’s Partial Motion to Dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Free Speech For People v. FEC (Case No. 19-1722) On August 23, the Commission filed a Motion to Dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Outreach

On August 27 and 28, Chair Weintraub and Commission staff hosted a Regional Conference in Chicago, IL for candidates, party committees, and political action committees.

Press Releases

Matthew Petersen departs Federal Election Commission (issued August 26)

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

September 10 and 12: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

September 12: 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

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

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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