On July 15, 2021, the Federal Election Commission (“Commission”) filed a complaint in the U. S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (“court”) alleging that LatPAC and its treasurer, Chalin M. Askew (collectively, “defendants”) have failed to file more than 16 required reports disclosing receipts and disbursements exceeding $92,000 since 2016. The Commission seeks a declaration that defendants violated 52 U.S.C. § 30104(a) and (b), an order that they file required reports, an appropriate civil penalty and a permanent injunction against future violations.
Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, a group that meets the definition of a “political committee” must register with the Commission and appoint a treasurer, who is required to sign and file regular reports disclosing receipts and disbursements. LatPAC registered with the Commission on June 29, 2016, as an unauthorized political committee, and designated Chalin Askew as its treasurer. On July 20, 2016, LatPAC filed a quarterly report with the Commission disclosing no receipts, disbursements, cash on hand, or debts. In each subsequent reporting period, dating through December 2020, the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division notified defendants of their failure to file.
On February 8, 2018, the Commission received an administrative complaint alleging LatPAC failed to disclose a total of $28,400 in contributions that the complainant gave to and raised for the committee. The Commission’s database shows that defendants failed to report any receipts or disbursements at any time whatsoever, including those made or raised by the complainant. The Commission’s ensuing investigation revealed that defendants had accepted more than $92,000 in receipts and made more than $92,000 in disbursements, and that they had failed to disclose any of LatPAC’s debts or obligations, including a debt of $4,000.
Askew contacted the Commission in November 2019 and stated he would take corrective action, including filing the missing reports by January 1, 2020. He failed to do so, and after further notification by the Commission and subsequent failure to respond by defendants, the Commission voted 6-0 to find probable cause to believe that defendants had violated 52 U.S.C. § 30104(a) and (b) by failing to file statutorily required reports disclosing receipts, disbursements, cash on hand and debts. Beginning April 6, 2021, the Commission endeavored for not less than 30 days to correct the violations through conference, conciliation, and persuasion; however, despite multiple attempts to reach defendants, they did not respond.
On June 23, 2021, the Commission voted 6-0 to authorize the filing of this suit.
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