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Week of January 11-15, 2021 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

On January 12 and 14, the Commission met in executive session.

On January 14, the Commission held an open meeting.

Advisory Opinions

Opinion issued

Advisory Opinion 2020-02 (Bertrand) On January 14, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Jean-Marc Bertrand. Based on Mr. Bertrand’s representation that he is a U.S. citizen, the Commission concluded that the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations did not prohibit his proposed purchase of online political advertisements even though he resides abroad. The Commission also concluded that neither the Act nor Commission regulations require him to provide Facebook or any other media platform with proof of a U.S. bank account, financial instruments drawn on a U.S. bank, or a U.S. residential address as a prerequisite to the purchase of political advertisements on their platforms. The Commission also noted that while it, as a general matter, has encouraged the adoption of screening procedures, it expressed no views on the particular procedures Facebook has adopted. Finally, the Commission noted that this advisory opinion cannot serve as legal proof that the requestor is a U.S. citizen (this fact was assumed by the Commission) or relieve any entity of its obligations to comply with the Act and Commission regulations.

Requests received

Advisory Opinion Request 2021-01 (Aluminate, Inc.) On January 14, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from Aluminate, Inc., asking whether it may use certain data from FEC reports in providing services to universities, colleges, and not-for-profit organizations. The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by March 15, 2021.

Advisory Opinion Request 2021-02 (FEN-PAC) On January 14, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from FEN-PAC, an independent expenditure-only committee, asking whether it and its donors may provide Members of Congress and/or federal candidates’ authorized committees with certain aggregate information about contributors from its disclosure reports. The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by March 5, 2021.

Regulations and agency procedures

REG 2020-04. On January 11, the Commission’s Final Rules to adjust its civil monetary penalty amounts for inflation for 2021 were published in the Federal Register. The Commission determined these amounts through a statutory formula, which applies the most recent “cost-of-living adjustment multiplier,” issued by the Office of Management and Budget each December, to the current amounts. The amended civil monetary penalties took effect as of the publication date.

Litigation

Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 20-5159) On January 8, GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc. filed a Brief of Amicus Curiae in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 20-1778) On January 12, Plaintiffs filed a Sur-Reply to Reply in Support of Statement of Interest of the United States in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Campaign Legal Center, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 19-2336) On January 13, Plaintiffs filed a Supplemental Motion in Further Support of Their Motion for Summary Judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

CREW, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 19-2753) On January 14, Plaintiffs filed a Sur-Reply Regarding Department of Justice’s Statement of Interest in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Audits

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Mississippi Republican Party. On January 14, the Commission held over until its next open meeting discussion of an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Mississippi Republican Party, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2016.

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on Van Drew for Congress In a tally vote completed prior to the January 14 open meeting, the Commission approved an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on Van Drew for Congress, covering campaign finance activity between November 30, 2017 and December 31, 2018. The Commission approved findings relating to receipt of contributions in excess of the limit and receipt of apparent prohibited contributions.

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the National Tooling & Machining Association (NTMA) Committee for a Strong Economy. The Commission approved an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the NTMA Committee for a Strong Economy, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. The Commission approved findings relating to misstatement of financial activity (increased activity) and disclosure of contributions made to federal candidate committees.

Proposed Final Audit Report on the Democratic Foundation of Orange County. In a tally vote completed prior to the January 14 open meeting, the Commission approved the Proposed Final Audit Report on the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. Based upon a limited examination of the statements and reports filed, and the records presented by the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, no material non-compliance was discovered.

Outreach

On January 13, the Commission issued the Statistical Summary of 21-Month Campaign Activity of the 2019-2020 Election Cycle.

On January 13 and 14, the Commission hosted reporting and FECFile webinars for campaigns, PACs, and party committees.

On January 15, Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub discussed Commission operations and campaign finance law with students from the Washington Center.

Press Releases

FEC approves advisory opinion, audit documents (Issued January 14)

Upcoming Commission meetings

January 26 and 28, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

January 28, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Upcoming reporting due dates

January 31, 2021: Year-End Reports are due.

Louisiana 2nd and 5th Congressional District Special Elections: The Commission has posted the filing dates for scheduled special elections in Louisiana. For more information, see the respective reporting notices.

Status of agency operations

See the Commission’s statement on the status of agency operations, updated on January 4, 2021. At this stage, most agency staff remain in telework status and the Commission’s office remains closed to visitors.

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.

Federal Elections 2018: Election Results for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is 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 2020 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.

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 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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