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Week of July 26-30, 2021 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

On July 27 and 29, the Commission met in executive session.

On July 29, the Commission held an open meeting.

Advisory Opinions

Opinions issued

Advisory Opinion 2021-07 (PAC Management Services LLC) On July 29, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from PAC Management Services LLC (PACMS). The requestor asked several questions about its proposal to allow individuals to solicit and make contributions to political committees via its online platform. The Commission concluded that the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations would not prohibit PACMS’s proposed services, and the proposed services would not cause PACMS to make, facilitate, or be a conduit for contributions, to incur registration or reporting obligations, or to be a “commercial vendor” under 11 C.F.R. § 114.2(f) or § 116.1(c). The Commission also concluded that PACMS may allow individuals who work for corporations and trade associations, acting in their personal capacities, to solicit contributions via its online platform. During the discussion, the Commission heard from counsel for the requestor.

Drafts under consideration

Advisory Opinion Request 2021-08 (Fitzgerald). On July 29, the Commission held over discussion of two draft advisory opinions in response to a request from Congressman Scott Fitzgerald, who became a member of Congress in 2021 after previously serving in the Wisconsin state senate. The requestor asks whether his state campaign committee and federal leadership PAC are affiliated committees under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations and if so, whether the leadership PAC may receive unlimited transfers of funds from the state committee, provided that such funds comply with the source prohibitions and contribution limitations of the Act and Commission regulations. If the Commission finds that the proposed transfers are permissible, the requestor asks whether the state committee is required to notify its contributors that their contributions are subject to the applicable source prohibitions and contribution limitations at the time such transfers are made. On July 27, the Commission made public a comment on the drafts. On July 28, the requestor granted the Commission an Extension of Time until August 12.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7191
COMPLAINANTS: J. Russell Lloyd; and FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENTS: Rand Paul; Freedom for all Americans (f/k/a Rand Paul for President, Inc.) and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Reinventing a New Direction Political Action Committee and Kevin Broghamer, in his official capacity as treasurer (RAND PAC)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Paul, a candidate for President in 2016, violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act) by using his leadership PAC, RAND PAC, to finance testing-the-waters activities beginning in 2013. The complaint further alleged that Paul became a candidate for President prior to April 2015, when he filed his Statement of Candidacy, and therefore failed to timely register and report with the Commission. Additionally, the complaint and a referral from the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division separately alleged that after Paul withdrew from the Presidential primary campaign, the Committee failed to timely refund or redesignate the contributions it received for the general election.
DISPOSITION: The Commission voted to dismiss the following allegations: 1) that RAND PAC made excessive in-kind contributions during the pre-candidacy period; 2) that RAND PAC made excessive contributions in the form of payments for testing-the-waters expenses; 3) that RAND PAC failed to report making in-kind contributions; 4) that the Committee accepted excessive in-kind contributions during the pre-candidacy period; 5) that the Committee accepted excessive in-kind contributions in the form of payments for testing-the-waters expenses; 6) that RAND PAC failed to report receipt of in-kind contributions; 7) that the Committee failed to timely file a Statement of Organization and related disclosure reports; 8) that Paul failed to timely file a Statement of Candidacy; and 9) that Paul accepted excessive in-kind contributions in the form of pre-candidacy payments and for testing-the-waters expenses. With respect to the allegation that the Committee failed to timely refund or redesignate general election contributions, the Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $21,000.

MUR 7354
COMPLAINANTS: Sandhya Bathija, Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: Friends of Chris McDaniel and Richard Conrad, in his official capacity as treasurer (McDaniel Committee); Chris McDaniel; and Remember Mississippi and Tommy Barnett, in his official capacity as treasurer (Remember PAC)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that McDaniel, a 2018 U.S. Senate candidate from Mississippi; the McDaniel Committee; and Remember PAC, an independent expenditure-only political committee that supported McDaniel, violated the Act and Commission regulations in several ways. First, the complaint alleged that Remember PAC made, and the McDaniel Committee accepted, excessive, corporate, and unreported in-kind contributions by organizing and paying for three McDaniel campaign events. The complaint also alleged that Remember PAC lost its status as an independent expenditure-only committee when it began making the in-kind contributions, and it further violated the Act by accepting contributions after that date that did not comply with the Act’s amount limitations and source prohibitions. Additionally, the complaint alleged that McDaniel failed to timely file his Statement of Candidacy, which resulted in the McDaniel Committee’s failure to timely file its Statement of Organization. Finally, the complaint alleged that McDaniel violated the Act’s soft money prohibitions by establishing, financing, maintaining, or controlling Remember PAC, which raised and spent soft money while McDaniel was a federal candidate.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 7769
COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENTS: Jill Stein for President and Steven Welzer, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: This matter arose from an audit of the Committee required by law because the Committee received matching funds for the 2016 Presidential primary election. The Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe that the Committee failed to report $222,297 in receipts, $127,995 in disbursements, and $17,015 in debts and obligations related to Jill Stein’s 2016 Presidential primary campaign.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $25,000. The Committee also agreed to file appropriate amended reports within 30 days should the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division determine that further amendments to its disclosure reports are necessary.

MUR 7802
COMPLAINANT: Tiffany Muller, End Citizens United
RESPONDENTS: Nicole for New York and Laura Schwartz, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Nicole Malliotakis
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that two television advertisements paid for by the Committee in support of Malliotakis’ campaign for New York’s 11th Congressional District in 2020 contained insufficient disclaimers. Specifically, the complaint alleged that the advertisements failed to include a written statement at the end of the advertisements that stated the candidate approved the communications
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint.

MURs 7370 and 7496 (New Republican PAC and Gentry Collins, in his official capacity as treasurer (New Republican); Rick Scott for Florida and Salvatore Purpura, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Rick Scott) On July 21, Vice Chair Allen Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey and James E. “Trey” Trainor III issued a Statement of Reasons.

Regulations and agency procedures

REG 2021-02 (Subvendor Reporting) – Draft Notification of Availability. On July 29, the Commission approved a Notification of Availability, seeking comment on whether the Commission should initiate a rulemaking in response to a Petition for Rulemaking from the Campaign Legal Center and the Center on Science & Technology Policy at Duke University. The petitioners ask the Commission to amend its existing regulations to require political committees and persons who make independent expenditures and electioneering communications to itemize all expenditures or disbursements made on behalf of the reporting entity, including those made by an agent, independent contractor, vendor, or subvendor. The Notification will be published in the Federal Register at a later date.

Litigation

Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 21-1376) On July 26, the Commission filed an Answer to the Plaintiff’s complaint.

Press releases

FEC approves advisory opinion, Notification of Availability (issued July 29)

Upcoming educational programs

August 17-18, 2021: The Commission will host a Virtual Conference online via Zoom.

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

Upcoming Commission meetings

August 10, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

August 11, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

August 11, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Upcoming reporting due dates

July 31: Mid-Year Reports are due. For more information, see the 2021 Semi-annual Reporting schedule.

Status of agency operations

See the Commission’s statement on the status of agency operations, updated on April 15, 2021. At this stage, most agency staff remain in telework status and the Commission’s office remains closed to visitors. See also the agency’s Workplace Safety Plan, dated May 6, 2021.

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

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