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Week of September 13-17, 2021 – FEC.gov

Commission meetings and hearings

On September 14, the Commission met in executive session.

Enforcement

The Commission made public 14 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6828

COMPLAINANT: George Alfaro
RESPONDENTS: Cal Voters for Honest Government and Johnny Diaz Jr., in his official capacity as treasurer (Cal Voters); Joe Baca; and Friends of Joe Baca 2014 and Joe Baca, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Cal Voters, an independent expenditure-only committee, funded a series of mailers, a website with the internet address www.veteranjoebaca.com, and a billboard, each supporting Baca, a 2014 primary candidate for California’s 31st Congressional District , and that all of the communications either contained inadequate disclaimers or lacked them altogether. The complaint also alleged that the website may have misled potential contributors and fraudulently solicited funds in Baca’s name without his authorization. Finally, the complaint alleged that Cal Voters coordinated communications with the Committee when it republished in one of the mailers what appeared to be a campaign-related letter bearing Baca’s signature.
DISPOSITION: The Commission previously found reason to believe that Cal Voters failed to include proper disclaimers on a website and billboards and fraudulently solicited funds, and it authorized an investigation. The Commission had also voted to exercise its prosecutorial discretion and dismiss the allegation that Cal Voters distributed a mailer that republished Baca’s campaign materials and resulted in an excessive in-kind contribution to Baca and the Committee. The Commission then voted to dismiss the matter pursuant to the statute of limitations, instructed the agency’s Reports Analysis Division to administratively terminate Cal Voters, and closed the file. Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7180

COMPLAINANTS: Lawrence M. Noble, Catherine Hinckley Kelley, and Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: Rebuilding America Now and Ryan Call, in his official capacity as treasurer (RAN); The GEO Group, Inc.; and GEO Corrections Holdings, Inc. (GC Holdings)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that GC Holdings and RAN violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act) when GC Holdings, purportedly a federal contractor, made contributions to RAN, an independent expenditure-only committee. Specifically, the complaint alleged that in August 2016 GC Holdings contributed $100,000 to RAN while it was a federal contractor. The complaint further alleged that RAN may have knowingly solicited the contribution from GC Holdings. A supplement to the complaint alleged that GC Holdings made additional contributions in the amounts of $125,000 to RAN in November 2016, $200,000 to Senate Leadership Fund in September 2016, and $100,000 to Conservative Solutions PAC in April 2015.
DISPOSITION: On January 23, 2018, the Commission found reason to believe that GC Holdings violated the Act’s prohibition on contributions by federal contractors. On August 10, 2021, the Commission voted to close the file as to all respondents. Chair Shana M. Broussard and Commissioner Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7344

COMPLAINANT: Linda Migliore
RESPONDENTS: Conservative Leadership for Arizona and Tim Sifert, in his official capacity as treasurer (CLA)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that CLA, a newly formed independent expenditure-only political committee, failed to timely file a 24- or 48-Hour report of independent expenditures in support of Debbie Lesko, an Arizona State Senator and 2018 special election candidate for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District, and that CLA’s disclaimers on the communications were inadequate.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe CLA failed to file a 24- or 48-hour report because according to CLA’s disclosure report, the expenditure in question was less than the $10,000 threshold for 48-Hour Reports and outside of the 20-day window for 24-Hour Reports. The Commission dismissed the allegation that CLA violated the disclaimer provision of the Act.

MURs 7443, 7447 and 7550

COMPLAINANTS: Friends of Matt Gaetz; Paul F. Nehlen, III; and Josh Alan Abel
RESPONDENT: Twitter, Inc. (Twitter)
SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that Twitter denied the complainants the full ordinary use of the platform and argue that these limitations serve as prohibited in-kind contributions to or undisclosed independent expenditures supporting, the complainants’ political opponents. In MURs 7443 and 7447, complainants also argued that Twitter, as a platform for political debate, falls within the scope of the Commission’s debate regulations and that Twitter’s alleged failure to use objective criteria for selecting participants resulted in a prohibited corporate contribution.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe Twitter’s actions were either contributions or expenditures because they appeared to reflect commercial considerations, rather than an effort to influence a federal election. The Commission found no reason to believe Twitter failed to disclose independent expenditures because the complaints did not identify any specific communication made by Twitter that allegedly contained express advocacy. Finally, the Commission found that the debate regulations operate as an exception for activity that may otherwise be considered a contribution or expenditure, and that the debate regulations did not bring into regulation Twitter’s activity that was not for the purpose of influencing an election. Commissioner Sean J. Cooksey issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7698

COMPLAINANT: Timothy J. Melchiors
RESPONDENTS: Republican National Committee and Ronald C. Kaufman, in his official capacity as treasurer (RNC); and Ronna McDaniel
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the RNC and McDaniel failed to include a proper disclaimer on a multi-page letter disseminated via U.S. mail within a package of campaign materials that also contained a multi-page survey which included a compliant disclaimer.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 7713

COMPLAINANT: Myra Koutzen
RESPONDENTS: Thomas R. Mills; Tom Mills; Committee to Elect Tom Mills as Commissioner (Mills Committee); and Larry Sommers
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Sommers, a foreign national, made and Mills, a municipal candidate in Florida, accepted a $100 campaign donation.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter. The Commission observed that the amount in question was modest and that the donation was refunded relatively soon after its receipt. The Commission admonished the Mills Committee and Sommers against future violations.

MURs 7812, 7825 and 7869

COMPLAINANTS: John Crump; Gun Owners of America, Inc.; Anita L. Staver; Liberty Counsel Action, Inc.; and Tony McDonald
RESPONDENTS: Facebook, Inc.; Biden for President and Andrea Wise, in her official capacity as treasurer (Biden Committee); and Agence France-Presse (AFP)
SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that Facebook made and the Biden Committee received excessive and prohibited in-kind corporate contributions when Facebook posted fact-checking articles and allegedly reduced the distribution of certain news stories or, in the alternative, that Facebook made independent expenditures in support of 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, without providing required disclaimers or reporting the independent expenditures to the Commission. The complaints in MURs 7812 and 7869 also alleged that the Biden Committee knowingly accepted the excessive and prohibited in-kind corporate contributions from Facebook. Finally, the complaint in MUR 7812 alleged that AFP, a foreign media outlet and fact-checking partner of Facebook, made prohibited in-kind foreign national contributions to the Biden Committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that Facebook made or the Biden Committee knowingly accepted excessive or prohibited in-kind corporate contributions or that Facebook failed to report or provide required disclaimers on independent expenditures because Facebook credibly explained that it has a commercial, rather than electoral, motivation underlying the fact-checking program and related activities at issue in the complaints. The Commission found no reason to believe AFP made prohibited foreign national contributions because there was no information to suggest that AFP acted with the purpose of influencing the election of Biden, 2020 vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, or any other candidate. Commissioner Cooksey issued a Statement of Reasons.

MURs 7821, 7827 and 7868

COMPLAINANTS: Justin Riemer, Republican National Committee; Matthew Raymer, Republican National Committee; and Jenny Beth Martin, Tea Party Patriots Foundation; and Tony K. McDonald
RESPONDENTS: Twitter, Inc. (Twitter); Jack Dorsey; Brandon Borrman; and Biden for President and Andrea Wise, in her official capacity as treasurer (Biden Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that, by suppressing negative information regarding 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden, Twitter made and the Biden Committee received a prohibited corporate in-kind contribution. Specifically, the complaints alleged that Twitter made an in-kind contribution when it blocked users from tweeting links to or certain information derived from a series of New York Post articles that published materials discovered on a laptop allegedly belonging to Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The complaint in MUR 7868 further alleged that Twitter made in-kind contributions to the Biden Committee by limiting the visibility of, or “shadow banning,” Republican users on its platform, suppressing distribution of an interview of an alleged former business associate of Hunter Biden, blocking coverage of post-2020 election lawsuits, and labeling tweets from Biden’s general election opponent, Donald J. Trump, regarding supposed election fraud and the election results. The complaint in MUR 7868 also alleged that, by virtue of an individual who worked for Twitter later joining the Biden team, the Biden Committee coordinated with Twitter and therefore knowingly accepted prohibited corporate contributions.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe violations occurred in connection with the allegations in the three complaints because (1) Twitter has credibly explained that it acted with a commercial motivation in response to the New York Post articles rather than with an electoral purpose; (2) with respect to its actions concerning Trump’s tweets, there is no evidence that Twitter coordinated its actions with the Biden Committee, and as such, the actions did not constitute contributions; and (3) the remaining allegations that Twitter limited the visibility of Republican users, suppressed distribution of an interview, and limited coverage of election lawsuits were vague, speculative, and unsupported by the available information. Vice Chair Dickerson and Commissioner Trainor issued a Supplemental Statement of Reasons, and Commissioner Cooksey issued a Statement of Reasons.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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

ADR 1001

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: South Dakota First and Sharon Boysen, in her 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 failed to identify the source of a cash-on-hand discrepancy totaling $34,400.00 disclosed on its Termination Report that originally was filed July 17, 2020.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to pay a civil penalty of $790.

ADR 1007

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: MAD DOG PAC and Claude Taylor, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether where was reason to believe that the Committee failed to timely file three 48-Hour Reports totaling $38,401.29 to support 15 independent expenditures disclosed on its 2020 October Quarterly Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) certify implementation of a compliance operations manual which includes internal controls, 2) certify that a representative participated in an FEC training, and 3) pay a civil penalty of $2,100.

ADR 1010

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Conservatives Acting Together Political Action Committee (CATPAC) and David Satterfield, in his 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 failed to timely file one 48-Hour Report totaling $122,094.32 to support one independent expenditure disclosed on its 2020 12-Day Pre-General Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) certify implementation of a policy document detailing procedures to ensure timely and accurate reporting of independent expenditures, 2) retain an outside consultant to review its compliance procedures and conduct an on-site training with those responsible for preparing and filing its reports, and 3) pay a civil penalty of $6,100.

ADR 1011

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Anna Paulina Luna for Congress and David Satterfield, in his 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 failed to disclose $51,833.15 in receipts on its original 2020 12-Day Pre-General Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed that all staff responsible for preparing and filing reports would attend a training led by the filing software vendor, and agreed to pay a civil penalty of $2,800.

ADR 1016

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: Freedom Club Federal PAC and Richard Morgan, in his 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 failed to timely file two 48-Hour Reports totaling $28,340 to support two independent expenditures disclosed on its 2020 October Quarterly Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) develop and certify the implementation and distribution of a policy document to be provided to external compliance vendors detailing independent expenditure reporting procedures to ensure timely and accurate reporting, 2) certify that a representative participated in an FEC training, and 3) pay a civil penalty of $1,550.

ADR 1018

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: TAKEACTION MN FEDERAL FUND and Elianne Farhat, in their 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 failed to timely file one 48-Hour Report totaling $150,000 to support one independent expenditure disclosed on its 2020 12-Day Pre-General Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) certify implementation of a compliance operations manual that includes internal controls, 2) certify that a representative participated in an FEC training, and 3) pay a civil penalty of $7,500.

Administrative Fines

The Commission made public 16 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Administrative Fine search system.

AF 3932 800Democrat and Mitchell Rubin, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $877.

AF 3933 American Pro-Israel PAC and Jeanne Sullivan, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 3934 Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA PAC) Political Action Committee and Craig Gunter, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $697.

AF 3935 Brad Barron for US Senate and Jill M. Barron, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $7,395.

AF 3936 Bronx United and Rush Perez, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,947.

AF 3937 Campaign to Support the President and Matt Tunstall, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,947.

AF 3939 District ll99C Nat’l Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees Political Action Fund and Salima Pace, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,947.

AF 3940 Emily Robinson for Congress and Emily Robinson, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $7,395.

AF 4008 Doug Shreffler Democrat and the Next President of the United States I and Doug Leray Shreffler, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $5,176.

AF 4009 Elect Henry Hewes 2020 and Henry Hewes, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 4010 Weld 2020 Presidential Campaign Committee, Inc. and Joseph Hunter, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $347.

AF 4036 Christin Powers Campaign and John A. Sessa, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 4037 Doug Shreffler Democrat and the Next President of the United States I and Doug Leray Shreffler, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $5,237.

AF 4038 Elect Henry Hewes 2020 and Henry Hewes, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 4051 Doug Shreffler Democrat and the Next President of the United States I and Doug Leray Shreffler, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $5,237.

AF 4086 Nevada County Republican Party and Frances J. Freedle, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission voted to terminate the proceedings and close the file.

Litigation

End Citizens United PAC v. FEC (Case No. 21-1665) On September 15, the Clerk of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia entered Default against the Commission.

FEC v. Defend Louisiana PAC, et al. (Case No. 21-346) On September 10, the Commission filed a Memorandum in Support of the Motion for Default Judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Outreach

On September 10, Commissioner Trainor spoke to the Denver chapter of the Federalist Society on recent legal developments at the Commission.

On September 15, the Commission hosted a webinar on Testing the Waters.

On September 16, Commissioner Trainor appeared on the Glenn Beck radio program to discuss the Commission’s recent decision concerning Twitter and the 2016 election.

Upcoming educational programs

September 22, 2021: The Commission will host a FECConnect On Topic session on Candidate Registration.

September 29, 2021: The Commission will host reporting and FECFile webinars to help federal candidates and their campaign committees prepare to file their October 15 Quarterly Reports.

October 27, 2021: The Commission will host Candidate 101: Getting Started, an introduction to the campaign finance laws and regulations that apply to federal candidates and campaigns, covering topics such as candidate registration, treasurer responsibilities, contribution limits and prohibitions, and basic reporting requirements.

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

Upcoming Commission meetings

September 28, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.

September 30, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Upcoming reporting due dates

September 20: September Monthly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2021 Monthly 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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