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Week of April 11-15, 2022 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

Request Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2022-03 (Democracy Engine) Advisory Opinion Request 2022-03 (Democracy Engine) On April 11, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from Democracy Engine, LLC. The requestor asks whether corporations may use the requestor’s web platform to solicit and track contributions from members of a corporation’s restricted class to federal candidates and political committees and whether corporations and their separate segregated funds may use the requestor’s web platform to solicit and track contributions from the general public to federal candidates and political committees. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than April 21) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by May 31, 2022.

Enforcement

The Commission made public 11 closed cases and two additional Statements of Reasons, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6850

COMPLAINANT: Maryann Martindale, Alliance for a Better Utah
RESPONDENTS: Jeremy Johnson; John E. Swallow; Arvin Lee Black; Atia Black; Matthew Black; and Friends of Mike Lee and Thomas Datwyler, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Johnson, at the request and direction of former Utah Attorney General Swallow, contributed $50,000 in the names of others to Lee’s 2010 primary election campaign for Utah’s United States Senate seat. The complaint further alleged that Arvin Lee Black, Atia Black, and Matthew Black, reportedly associates of Johnson, allowed their names to be used for Johnson’s contributions.
DISPOSITION: On April 17, 2015, the Commission found probable cause to believe that Johnson made excessive and prohibited contributions in the name of another. The Commission was unable to settle the matter through conciliation and filed a civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division. On August 19, 2020, the District Court entered a Consent Judgment, finding that Johnson knowingly and willfully violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act). The Consent Judgment noted that due to Johnson’s limited ability to earn a living and the fact that he owed millions of dollars to the federal government in connection with other actions, the Commission agreed to forego any civil monetary penalty against Johnson. On June 18, 2015, the Commission dismissed the allegations against Matthew Black, Atia Black, and the Committee. On July 9, 2015, the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing that Arvin Lee Black pay no civil penalty due to his lack of sufficient assets. On October 27, 2015, the Commission found probable cause that Swallow knowingly and willfully made contributions in the name of another. The Commission was unable to settle the matter through conciliation and filed a civil suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, Central Division. This litigation resulted in a Partial Final Judgment granting Swallow’s motion to dismiss the litigation and denying the Commission’s cross motion for judgment on the pleadings. On March 8, 2022, the Commission voted to close the file in this enforcement matter.

MUR 7454

COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: Blue Magnolia Investments, LLC (Blue Magnolia); Highway 76 LLC (Highway 76); and DefendArizona and Benjamin Ottenhoff, in his official capacity as treasurer (DefendArizona)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that two limited liability companies, Blue Magnolia and Highway 76, violated the Act in connection with two separate $100,000 contributions made to DefendArizona, an independent expenditure-only political committee. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Blue Magnolia and Highway 76 served as conduits for unknown persons to make contributions in the name of another to DefendArizona, and that both Blue Magnolia and Highway 76 failed to register and report as political committees after making the reported contributions.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that Blue Magnolia and Highway 76 failed to provide required attribution information at the time they made contributions to DefendArizona, and that DefendArizona filed incomplete disclosure reports to the Commission in connection with these contributions. The Commission entered into conciliation agreements with each of the three respondents that did not require payment of a civil penalty. Highway 76 agreed to provide information to DefendArizona regarding the attribution of its $100,000 contribution that it made on June 30, 2018, and DefendArizona agreed to amend its July 2018 Quarterly Report to include attribution of the contribution. Chairman Allen Dickerson, Vice Chair Steven T. Walther, and Commissioners Shana M. Broussard and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons. Chairman Dickerson issued a separate Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7606

COMPLAINANT: Daniel Rufty
RESPONDENTS: Committee to Elect Leigh Brown and Joseph Clark, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Leigh Brown; National Association of Realtors Political Action Committee and John R. Flor, in his official capacity as treasurer (NAR PAC)
SUBJECT: The Complaint alleged that NAR PAC made, and Brown and the Committee accepted, unreported and prohibited in-kind contributions through coordinated television and print advertising. Brown was a 2019 special election candidate for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe an impermissible excessive contribution through coordinated communications occurred because the available information did not indicate that the activity at issue satisfied the conduct prong of the three-part coordinated communications test.

MURs 7686, 7714 and 7716

COMPLAINANTS: End Citizens United PAC; American Democracy Legal Fund; and Michigan Democratic Party
RESPONDENTS: John James for Senate, Inc. and Timothy Caughlin, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); John James; Better Future Michigan (BFM); and Victoria Sachs
SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that BFM, a non-profit corporation, made prohibited in-kind contributions to James and the Committee after Sachs left her employment as an independent contractor with the Committee and joined BFM as executive director, and BFM ran ads in coordination with James and the Committee. The Complaint in MUR 7716 also alleged that James, through Sachs as his agent, directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled BFM. James was a 2020 candidate for Michigan’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission dismissed the matters. Chairman Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey and James E. “Trey” Trainor, III issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7717

COMPLAINANT: Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust
RESPONDENTS: Theresa Greenfield for Iowa and Theresa L. Kehoe, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Theresa Greenfield; and SMP and Rebecca Lambe, in her official capacity as treasurer (SMP)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that SMP made, and Greenfield and the Committee knowingly accepted, excessive in-kind contributions when SMP republished the Committee’s campaign materials in coordinated communications made at the request or suggestion of the Committee. The complaint further alleged that SMP and the Committee failed to report the in-kind contributions. Greenfield was a 2020 candidate for Iowa’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7740

COMPLAINANT: Mathilde Carpet
RESPONDENTS: Tomlinson for Senate and Sheri Labovitz, in her official capacity as treasurer (Tomlinson Committee); and Undivided Purpose and Victoria Perrone, in her official capacity as treasurer (Undivided Purpose)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Undivided Purpose, an independent expenditure-only political committee, may have made, and the Tomlinson Committee may have accepted, an in-kind contribution in the form of a coordinated communication. Teresa Tomlinson was a 2020 primary candidate for Georgia’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe a coordinated communication occurred because of the lack of available information supporting the allegation.

MUR 7758

COMPLAINANT: Alexander Joseph Zajac
RESPONDENTS: Make America Great Again PAC (f/k/a Donald J. Trump for President) and Bradley Crate, in his official capacity as treasurer; America First Action and Jon Proch, in his official capacity as treasurer; Committee to Defeat the President (f/k/a Committee to Defend the President) and Ted Harvey, in his official capacity as treasurer; Cory Gardner for Senate and Lisa Lisker, in her official capacity as treasurer; Cotton for Senate and Theodore V. Koch, in his official capacity as treasurer; Jason Lewis for Senate and Bradley Crate, in his official capacity as treasurer; Joni for Iowa and Cabell Hobbs, in his official capacity as treasurer; Marco Rubio for Senate and Lisa Lisker, in her official capacity as treasurer; McConnell Senate Committee and Larry J. Steinberg, in his official capacity as treasurer; Republican National Committee and Ronald C. Kaufman, in his official capacity as treasurer; Republican State Leadership Committee; Scalise for Congress and Benjamin Ottenhoff, in his official capacity as treasurer; Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Bradley Crate, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that that respondents may have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations when fundraising emails were sent from the same domain and email address raising concerns of coordination, which may have resulted in excessive contributions and the failure to report in-kind contributions.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents either made or knowingly accepted excessive contributions or failed to report in-kind contributions because the coordinated communication test was not satisfied with respect to the fundraising emails at issue.

MUR 7797

COMPLAINANT: Kendra Arnold, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust
RESPONDENTS: SMP (formerly Senate Majority PAC) and Rebecca Lambe, in her official capacity as treasurer (SMP); Sara Gideon for Maine and Lisa Lunn, in her official capacity as Treasurer (Gideon Committee); Sara Gideon; and Maeve Coyle
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that SMP coordinated an advertisement with the Gideon Committee in response to a tweet sent by Coyle, the Committee’s communications director, that allegedly included coded words to communicate a request or suggestion that advertisements be run in specific markets and include specific themes. Gideon was a 2020 candidate for Maine’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that Gideon, the Gideon Committee, and Coyle accepted, and SMP made, excessive in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated communications because the available information was insufficient to raise a reasonable inference that coordination occurred.

MUR 7813

COMPLAINANT: Wesley E. Enos III
RESPONDENTS: Iowa Democratic Party and Ken Sagar, in his official capacity as treasurer (IDP); SMP and Rebecca Lambe, in her official capacity as treasurer (SMP); Theresa Greenfield; and Theresa Greenfield for Iowa and Theresa Kehoe, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that SMP made, and IDP, Greenfield, and the Committee knowingly accepted, an excessive in-kind contribution in the form of a coordinated communication made at the request or suggestion of IDP through a tweet. Greenfield was a 2020 candidate for Iowa’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission dismissed the allegations. The Commission observed that there was insufficient information available to support a reasonable inference that the coordinated communication test was satisfied.

MUR 7147 (Make America Number 1, et al.) On April 11, Chairman Dickerson and Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.

MURs 7646 (1820 PAC, et al.) 7666 & 7675 (Peters for Michigan, et al.); 7681 & 7715 (VoteVets, et al.); 7717 (Theresa Greenfield for Iowa, et al); and 7781 (Fight for the American Dream PAC) On April 7, Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons in connection with these matters.

MUR 7781 (Fight for the American Dream PAC) On April 11, Chairman Dickerson and Commissioner Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.

Litigation

Castro v. FEC (Case No. 22-369) On April 8, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Dismiss Without Prejudice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. On April 12, the Court granted that Motion and dismissed the case without prejudice.

Outreach

On April 13, the Commission issued the Statistical Summary of 12-Month Campaign Activity of the 2021-2022 Election Cycle.

Upcoming Commission meetings

April 26 and 28, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

April 28, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Upcoming educational programs

April 20, 2022: The Commission will host an FECConnect OnTopic session on Filing 48-Hour Notices for Last-Minute Contributions and Loans.

May 11, 2022: The Commission will host a webinar for corporations and their PACs.

May 18, 2022: The Commission will host an FECConnect OnTopic session on responding to Requests for Additional Information (RFAIs) from the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD).

May 25, 2022: The Commission will host a webinar for membership and labor organizations and their PACs.

For more information on upcoming training opportunities, see the Commission’s Trainings page.

Upcoming reporting due dates

April 15: April Quarterly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2022 Quarterly Reporting schedule.

April 20: April Monthly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2022 Monthly Reporting schedule.

The Commission has posted filing deadlines for the Nebraska 1st District and Texas 34th District Special Elections. For information on the reporting dates for these elections, refer to the Special Election Report Notices.

Updated Campaign Guide

The Commission recently updated its Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees. The new Guide, which replaces the 2014 edition, provides an overall summary of the federal campaign finance laws that apply to candidates for the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate and their campaign committees. Printed versions of the Guide are now available for order from the Commission’s Information Division.

Additional research materials

Contribution Limits. In addition to the current limits, the Commission has posted an archive of contribution limits that were in effect going back to the 1975-1976 election cycles.

2020 Presidential General Election Results and Federal Elections 2018: Election Results for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are available. The data was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices.

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.

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 Presidential Election Campaign Fund Tax Checkoff Chart provides information on balance of the Fund, monthly deposits into the Fund reported by the Department of the Treasury, payments from the Fund as certified by the FEC, and participation rates of taxpayers as reported by the Internal Revenue Service. For more information on the Presidential Public Funding Program, see the Public Funding of Presidential Elections page.

The FEC Record is available as a continuously updated online news source.

Other election-related resources

Videos on protecting U.S. elections. The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides videos designed to help political campaigns protect themselves from foreign influence. The 2019 videos offer guidance on ransomware, business email compromise, supply chain, social media literacy, and foreign influence operations. Other videos, released in 2018, include cyber hygiene topics such as social engineering, patching, router hardening, and app and browser safety.

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. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.

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