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Week of June 27– July 1, 2022 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

Opinion Issued

Advisory Opinion 2022-03 (Democracy Engine) On June 27, the Commission approved by tally vote an advisory opinion in response to a request from Democracy Engine, LLC. Under the circumstances described in the request, the Commission concluded that a corporate separate segregated fund (SSF) client of Democracy Engine may solicit the general public to make contributions through a customized website hosted by Democracy Engine and receive real-time data about any resulting contributions because that activity is not prohibited corporate facilitation, and the proposed activity is not covered by the “sale or use” prohibition of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act). The Commission also concluded that disclaimers must be provided on the customized website because it would be the website of a political committee. The Commission did not approve a response by the required four votes to the questions of whether a corporation could use Democracy Engine’s platform to communicate with its restricted class or the general public about contributing to candidates and committees without undertaking such activity through its corporate SSF.

Requests Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2022-12 (Ready for Ron) On June 28, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from Ready for Ron, a hybrid, nonconnected “draft” political committee that seeks to encourage Governor Ron DeSantis to run for President. The requestor proposes to ask individuals to sign a petition encouraging Governor DeSantis to run for President and to provide their names and contact information. The requestor asks whether it may provide this petition and signatory contact information to Governor DeSantis. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than July 8) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by August 16, 2022.

Advisory Opinion Request 2022-13 (Dr. Alan Gross and Northern Leadership PAC) On June 29, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request by Dr. Alan Gross and Northern Leadership PAC. The requestors ask whether the Northern Leadership PAC may convert to an authorized committee of Dr. Gross’s campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives or, alternatively, its previous designation as the principal campaign committee of Dr. Gross’s 2020 campaign for the United States Senate. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following the publication of the request (no later than July 4) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete advisory opinion request, that is, by August 23, 2022.

Supplemental Material Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2022-09 (Democratic Party of Wisconsin Federal) On June 27, the Commission made public supplemental material from the requestor.

Enforcement

The Commission made public 10 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 7442

COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: Global Energy Producers, LLC (GEP); Igor Fruman; Lev Parnas; America First Action, Inc. and Jon Proch, in his official capacity as Treasurer (the Committee); Aaron Investments I, LLC (Aaron LLC); The Jacobs Law Group; Russell S. Jacobs; and Unknown Respondents
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Fruman, Parnas, GEP, Aaron LLC, Jacobs Law Group, Jacobs, and Unknown Respondents used GEP and Aaron LLC as conduits to make contributions to the Committee, an independent expenditure-only political committee, and that the Committee misreported the activity by filing inaccurate disclosure reports. The complaint further alleged that GEP failed to register and report as a political committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Chairman Allen Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey and James E. “Trey” Trainor, III and Commissioners Shana M. Broussard and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7763

COMPLAINANT: Garry R. Kirkland
RESPONDENTS: Casper for Colorado and Casper Stockham, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Casper Wesley Stockham
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Stockham converted campaign funds from the Committee to personal use for vehicle expenses unrelated to the campaign, as well as utilities, moving expenses, and personal Amazon purchases. The complaint further alleged that Stockham received an impermissible salary from the Committee, and that the Committee failed to report that salary. Stockham was a 2020 candidate for Colorado’s 7th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for Stockham to pay a civil penalty of $2,400 and attend a Commission-sponsored training program for candidates and authorized committees. The Committee further agreed to amend its reports to accurately reflect salary payments to Stockham by reporting that disbursements were ultimately paid to Stockham, and identify payments made for personal use.

MURs 7826 and 7862

COMPLAINANTS: Alan R. Ostergren; and Accuracy in Media
RESPONDENTS: Iowa Democratic Party and Ken Sagar, in his official capacity as treasurer (IDP); Theresa Greenfield for Iowa and Theresa Kehoe, in her official capacity as treasurer (Greenfield Committee); and Rita Hart for Iowa and Sheila Spickermann, in her official capacity as treasurer (Hart Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that IDP knowingly and willfully made and the Greenfield and Hart Committees accepted excessive in-kind contributions when IDP paid to distribute mailers pursuant to the volunteer materials exemption without substantial volunteer involvement, and that IDP knowingly and willfully failed to include proper disclaimers on the mailers.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter.

MUR 7835

COMPLAINANTS: Lisa Jill Savage; Lisa for Maine; Max Linn; and Max Linn for Senate 2020
RESPONDENT: WMTW-TV
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that WMTW-TV, a Maine television station, made prohibited corporate contributions when it failed to use pre-established objective criteria for selecting participants in a candidate debate for Maine’s U.S. Senate race in 2020, which resulted in the exclusion of two candidates from the debate.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe WMTW-TV made prohibited corporate contributions because the available information showed that WMTW used pre-established criteria in selecting debate participants that were of the type the Commission has previously found to be objective. Commissioner Cooksey issued a Statement of Reasons.

MURs 7838, 7849, 7852, and 7856

COMPLAINANTS: RaiseUP; Dan Marrs; Americans for Public Trust; and Susan B. Anthony List, Inc.
RESPONDENTS: Expensify, Inc. (Expensify); and David Barrett
SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that Barrett, CEO of Expensify, endorsed 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden in an email to Expensify customers that resulted in an in-kind contribution to Biden’s campaign committee and constituted an independent expenditure that Expensify failed to report. The complaints also alleged that Barrett failed to include a required disclaimer on the email and may have violated the foreign national prohibition by encouraging non-citizen recipients to participate in U.S. election activities.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents (1) made a prohibited in-kind corporate or coordinated contribution, (2) failed to include a disclaimer, or (3) solicited foreign national contributions because (1) there was no basis to conclude that the email at issue was a coordinated communication or that Expensify otherwise made or Barrett consented to making an in-kind contribution to Biden through the use of Expensify’s email list, (2) the email was neither a public communication nor an electioneering communication and was therefore not required to include a disclaimer, and (3) the portion of the email that was directed to foreign citizens did not specifically solicit contributions. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that Expensify failed to report an independent expenditure, observing that the costs incurred were minimal. The Commission found no reason to believe Barrett failed to report an independent expenditure because reporting obligations extend only to the corporation, not to corporate officers in their individual capacity.

MUR 7920

COMPLAINANT: Burt Holmes
RESPONDENTS: Oklahomans for Truth, Responsibility, Unity, Markets, & Prosperity PAC and James Tackett, in his official capacity as Treasurer (the Committee); Conservatives for a Great Broken Arrow (d/b/a Vote Safe); Init2, and LLC (d/b/a Win Mail & Design)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee accepted $94,000 in excessive and prohibited contributions from Vote Safe and Init2 LLC, two corporations controlled by its treasurer Tackett. The Committee was initially registered with the Commission as a traditional nonconnected political committee but later clarified its intent to operate as an independent expenditure-only political committee (IEOPC).
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the Committee received, and Vote Safe and Win Mail & Design made, excessive and prohibited contributions because the available information supported the assertion that the Committee intended to register as an IEOPC. Chairman Dickerson 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 1067 and 1068

COMPLAINANTS: FEC-Initiated; and Self-Reported
RESPONDENT: Kern County Republican Central Committee (Fed) and Laurel Sheffield, in official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe that the Committee violated the Act after the Committee disclosed the refund of unauthorized disbursements totaling $218,546.39 on its 2019 Mid-Year Report. The Committee also filed a sua sponte submission acknowledging that its 2019 Mid-Year Report reflected two refunds from the former treasurer comprising the partial restitution of embezzled funds. From 2013 to 2019, the former treasurer made approximately $272,000 in unauthorized disbursements, which he failed to accurately disclose on the Committee’s reports, resulting in the Committee filing inaccurate reports with the Commission.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) certify that internal control procedures are followed for a period of two years and that a representative of the Committee participates in an FEC training program; 2) file a Form 99 (Miscellaneous Electronic Submission) with the Commission to accurately and fully disclose the unauthorized disbursements and adjust its cash-on-hand balance, if necessary, to clarify the public record; and 3) pay a civil penalty of $3,400.

Commissioner statements

On June 28, Chairman Dickerson and Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement Regarding Freedom of Information Act Litigation.

Litigation

45Committee, Inc. v. FEC (Case No. 22-502) On June 24, the Commission filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and Memorandum in Support of its Motion for Summary Judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Stein, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 21-1213) On June 28, Appellants filed a Brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Outreach

On June 29, the Commission hosted a FECFile webinar for party committees and political action committees.

Press releases

FEC approves advisory opinion (issued June 28)

Upcoming Commission meetings

July 12, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

July 14, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

July 26, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

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

Upcoming educational programs

July 27, 2022: The Commission will host an FECConnect OnTopic session on when to file 24- and 48-Hour Reports for Independent Expenditures.

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

Upcoming reporting due dates

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

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

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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