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Quick Answers to Compliance Questions

This page provides answers to frequently asked compliance questions.  If you don't find an answer to your question here, please contact the FEC's Information Division, toll free at 800-424-9530 or by e-mail at info@fec.gov.

The PDF files linked on this web page may be viewed or printed using the free Acrobat Reader available from Adobe.

 

How do I file a complaint if I believe someone has violated federal election campaign finance law?

Complaints must be submitted in writing and must be sworn to and notarized. For additional information see our brochure, "Filing a Complaint."

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What penalties can the FEC impose for violations of the law?

Most violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) result in civil penalties--fines arrived at through a conciliation process. Knowing and willful violations of certain FECA provisions can lead to imprisonment. The FEC has exclusive civil enforcement authority, and may refer criminal violations to the U.S. Department of Justice. For additional information see our brochure, "Filing a Complaint."  Note that sentencing guidelines for criminal violations of the law are set by the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

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What is the Alternative Dispute Resolution program?

The Commission's Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program offers respondents in certain types of enforcement matters an alternative to the agency's normal enforcement procedures. ADR cases tend to be resolved quickly through negotiation and mutual consent of those involved. For more information, see our "Alternative Dispute Resolution" brochure.

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What is the Administrative Fine Program?

Under the Administrative Fine Program, committees that file reports late or fail to file are subject to civil money penalties, based on the tardiness of the report, the election-sensitivity of the report and the amount of activity disclosed on the report. For additional information, visit our Administrative Fine Program web page.

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What is a MUR?

The acronym MUR stands for Matter Under Review.  This is the name given to the Commission's standard enforcement cases.  For additional information on MURs and the Commission's enforcement process, visit our Matters Under Review (MURs) web page.

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How can my committee protect itself against embezzlement or misappropriation?

As the amount of money raised and spent on federal elections has increased, so has the incidence of misappropriation and embezzlement of political committees’ funds. The Commission advises committees to adopt certain internal controls and best practices to help protect their assets and comply with the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (the Act) requirements to file accurate and complete reports of financial activity. Though not required, implementing the internal controls outlined by the Commission may help committees not only prevent embezzlement or misappropriation, but also potentially avoid a civil penalty for filing incorrect reports due to fraud. Please review the Policy Statement listed below for details.

The FEC offers the following resources to help committees establish internal controls:

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What should I do if my committee’s funds have been embezzled?

If you discover a misappropriation or embezzlement of committee funds, the Campaign Finance Analyst assigned to your committee can help you work through the resulting disclosure challenges. (Call toll-free at 1-800-424-9530, press #5, or 202-694-1130.)  You may also want to consult with counsel to see whether filing a sua sponte submission or complaint may be appropriate. If you would like to discuss a sua sponte submission with the FEC, you may contact the Office of General Counsel (202-694-1650).  You may also want to notify law enforcement.

Regardless, committees should do their best to file accurate and complete reports by the established deadlines. As part of those reports, we encourage you to include Miscellaneous Documents (Form 99 for electronic filers) to provide as much detail as possible concerning the embezzlement, including whether the reported cash-on-hand (COH) balance accurately reflects the actual bank balance. If your committee’s reported COH balance is inaccurate, make a one-time cash adjustment on your next report to reflect the actual balance. There are two ways to do so:

Amend reports filed earlier in the current election cycle to correct any errors or omissions. For prior election cycles, you may file a single Miscellaneous Document (Form 99) that lists the detailed transactions that make up the discrepancy (when available) and/or notes any unexplained discrepancies and estimated timeframes. 

Additionally, the FEC offers the following resources to help committees respond to any misappropriation or embezzlement that occurs:

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* Advisory opinions may be relied upon by any person involved in a transaction or activity that is indistinguishable in all its material aspects from the transaction or activity described in the opinion. 2 U.S.C. 437f(c).