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HOME / HELP WITH REPORTING AND COMPLIANCE / RESOURCES FOR COMMITTEE TREASURERS / TIMELY TIPS ARCHIVE 2009

Timely Tips Archive 2009

This page provides a comprehensive list of helpful tips that appeared on our Resources for Committee Treasurers page during 2009. These tips are intended to help treasurers meet their obligations under the federal campaign finance law. To suggest a tip, please e-mail us at info@fec.gov.

December 28, 2009 All Closed FEC Enforcement Cases Now Online. As of December 23, the Commission has now placed all publicly released enforcement documents, dating back to the agency's creation, on its website. Closed enforcement matters from 1975 through 1998 are available at http://www.fec.gov/MUR. Closed MURs dating from 1999 to the present can be found in the Enforcement Query Section of the FEC website at http://eqs.sdrdc.com/eqs/searcheqs.
December 22, 2009 FEC Clarifies Enforcement Policies. On December 17, the Commission approved two items to better explain enforcement procedures to the regulated community: 1) a Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents on the FEC Enforcement Process, that summarizes the Commission's general enforcement policies and procedures and provides a step-by-step guide through the Commission's enforcement process and 2) a Directive on Enforcement Procedures to provide status reports to respondents and the Commission in enforcement matters.
December 14, 2009 Give the Gift of Campaign Finance Law Knowledge. The FEC periodically offers training conferences and workshops to help committees learn about the campaign finance law. Dates for scheduled 2010 conferences and workshops have been posted at http://www.fec.gov/info/outreach.shtml. Registration has begun for a reporting roundtable on January 20 in Washington, DC, and a regional conference in New Orleans, February 9-10. Over the years, FEC conferences and workshops have often sold out. So don't get left out in the cold in this winter; sign up for our e-mail list to be notified when registration begins for our spring conferences. You'll be among the first to know when a training opportunity becomes available.
December 8, 2009 New Rules May Affect Your Campaign. The Commission has published new regulations governing campaign travel and proposed changes to its rules limiting candidate/officeholder participation in nonfederal fundraisers. The rules on campaign travel, most of which take effect January 6, 2010, restrict -- and in some cases prohibit -- candidates from spending campaign funds to travel aboard noncommercial aircraft. The proposed rules regarding federal candidate/officeholder participation in nonfederal fundraising events respond to the recent court decision in Shays v. FEC. Comments on the proposed changes are due February 8, 2010.
November 30, 2009 Early December Special Election Reports Due. There are two special elections with reports due this Thursday, December 3, covering activity from October 15 through November 23. In New York's 23rd District, the post-general report is due, and in California's 10th District, the post-runoff report is due. (PACs/party committees supporting or opposing candidates in these elections should review these Federal Register notices [NY23] /[CA10] to determine their filing requirements.)
November 23, 2009 Massachusetts Senate Special Election Reports Due This Week. Pre-primary reports are due Thursday (Thanksgiving), November 26, for authorized committees participating in the Massachusetts Senate special primary election. Please note that the Commission does not have statutory authority to extend filing deadlines even if they occur on a federal holiday, so plan accordingly. PACs/party committees supporting or opposing candidates in this election should review this Federal Register notice to determine their filing requirements.
November 16, 2009 November Reporting Reminder. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a regular report due Friday, November 20, covering the month of October.
November 9, 2009 Party Guide (2009 Edition) Now Available in Hard Copy. Printed versions of the July 2009 updated version of the FEC's Campaign Guide for Political Party Committees are now available free of charge from the FEC's Information Division. To order, call 1-800/424-9530 (press 6), or send an e-mail to info@fec.gov.
November 2, 2009 FEC Introduces New Disclosure Tools. The Commission has just introduced a new disclosure data catalog for downloading data files from its website. The data catalog offers users increased flexibility and choice to customize their searches. The Commission has also launched a new disclosure data blog to increase the exchange of information between the website’s managers and users. On the blog, the Commission will post information about disclosure files and its future plans, and solicit questions, ideas and suggestions from users.
October 27, 2009 EMILY's List v. FEC Update. On October 22, the Commission announced it would not seek rehearing en banc in EMILY’s List v. FEC. On September 24, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered that the district court vacate the challenged regulations, saying they “exceed the FEC’s statutory authority.”  Two of the three judges also concluded that these regulations “violate the First Amendment.”The regulations at issue concern funds received in response to solicitations (11 C.F.R. 100.57), the method for allocating administrative expenses, costs of generic voter drives, and certain public communications (11 C.F.R. 106.6(c)), and payments for public communications and voter drives that refer to one or more clearly identified federal or non-federal candidates (11 C.F.R. 106.6(f)). Commissioners’ statements on the rehearing issue are here.
October 20, 2009 Notices of Proposed Rulemaking Implementing the Recent Shays Decision are now Available for Comment. On October 8, the Commission approved two Notices of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRMs) implementing the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion in Shays v. FEC (Shays III)  that found invalid aspects of some of the rules the Commission promulgated to implement the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). The NPRM on Federal Election Activity addresses definitions of get-out-the-vote and voter registration activity. The Commission will hold a hearing on this NPRM on December 16, 2009. Comments from the public are due by November 20. The NPRM on Coordinated Communications proposes possible alternatives to the regulations that govern communications made in coordination with federal candidates, their authorized committees or political parties but paid for by other persons. The NPRM also proposes to define “promote, attack, support, or oppose.” Comments on this NPRM are due on or before January 19, 2010, and the Commission will hold a hearing at a later date.
October 13, 2009 October Reporting Reminder. Authorized committees are reminded that their October Quarterly reports are due this Thursday, October 15. This report covers the period of July 1 through September 30. Also, monthly filers are reminded that reports covering the month of September are due Tuesday, October 20.
October 6, 2009 New FECTube Videos Available. A new three-part video series on best practices in internal controls and recordkeeping has recently been posted on FECTube, the FEC's YouTube channel. In these videos, FEC Audit Division Director Joe Stoltz discusses recommended internal controls and recordkeeping procedures for political committees. You can find the new videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/FECTube.
September 28, 2009 Are you Getting your Weekly Digest? The FEC Press Office now publishes a weekly digest of Commission events and news every Friday afternoon. You can find the Press Office digest online or sign up to subscribe to receive it via e-mail by visiting http://www.fec.gov/press/FEC_Digest.shtml.
September 21, 2009 Emily's List v. Federal Election Commission. On September 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the decision of the district court in Emily’s List v. Federal Election Commission and ordered that the district court vacate the challenged regulations. The regulations at issue concern funds received in response to solicitations (11 C.F.R. 100.57), the method for allocating administrative expenses, costs of generic voter drives, and certain public communications (11 C.F.R. 106.6(c)), and payments for public communications and voter drives that refer to one or more clearly identified federal or non-federal candidates (11 C.F.R. 106.6(f)). At this time, the FEC is reviewing the court’s opinion; please watch this space and the Record newsletter for future developments.
September 14, 2009 September Reporting Reminder. Monthly filers are reminded that they have a report due Sunday, September 20, covering the month of August. Please note that the Commission does not have statutory authority to extend filing deadlines even if they occur on a weekend, so plan accordingly.
September 8, 2009 The Cost of Filing Late Just Went Up. The Commission published final rules in July that increased certain civil penalties for inflation, including fines under the Administrative Fines Program for late- or non-filed reports. For more information on the new rules and to see the newly adjusted fine schedules, visit the Commission's Administrative Fine Program web page. Ultimately, the best thing you can do: File your reports on time!
August 31, 2009 Back to School with the FEC. The school year is beginning, and it's a good time to update your knowledge of FEC rules and practices to prepare for the 2010 elections. The FEC will conduct two conferences this fall: September 15-16, in Chicago and October 28-29, in San Francisco. These conferences, intended for House and Senate campaigns, corporate/labor/trade PACs, and state and local political party committees, offer workshops on fundraising, reporting and communications. All workshops focus on best practices and ways to avoid compliance problems. Registration is now open for both conferences at the above links.
August 25, 2009 Looking for the Record? As of the July 2009 issue, the FEC is distributing the Record electronically. It is made available each on month on the FEC web site at http://www.fec.gov/pages/record.shtml and the FEC will notify all registered committees and FECMail subscribers via e-mail each time a new issue is posted. If you don't currently receive e-mail notification, simply visit http://www.fec.gov/pages/record.shtml and click on the link "Sign-up to receive an email notification when a new issue of the Record is posted." Upon request, the Commission will print and mail copies to individuals who do not have computer access.
August 17, 2009 August Reporting Reminders. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a regular report due Thursday, August 20, covering the month of July. Some committees may also have to file lobbyist bundling reports on FEC Form 3L on that day as well. See the Commission's Lobbyist Bundling Disclosure page for more information.
August 12, 2009 Reporting for California Special Elections. There are two special House elections in California with reports due in August. In California's 32nd District, a post-runoff report is due August 13 (covering activity from July 1 through August 3). In California's 10th District, a pre-general report is due August 20 (covering activity from July 1 through August 12). (PACs/party committees supporting or opposing candidates in these elections should review these Federal Register notices [10th District] /[32nd District] to determine their filing requirements.)
August 3, 2009 FEC Launches E-Learning and YouTube. The Commission has added an E-Learning section to its Educational Outreach web page and has also launched its own YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/FECTube. The E-Learning page offers interactive presentations that allow users to test their knowledge of the information presented and video workshops. The workshops are actually hosted on YouTube and include presentations about the Commission and the law it administers, as well as highlights from our April workshop on lobbyist bundling. Additional content and other improvements will appear in the weeks and months ahead.
July 27, 2009 Sign up now for FEC Training Opportunities this August and September. It's a good time to update your knowledge of campaign finance law to prepare for the 2010 elections. Sign up now to attend a free workshop for your committee offered as part of the FEC's state outreach program, August 5-6, in Kansas City, MO. If you are looking for more comprehensive training and networking opportunities, registration is open for the FEC's regional conference for campaigns, corporate/labor/trade association PACs and party committees, to be held September 15-16 in Chicago. Committees are encouraged to register now for the conference, before the price rises on August 14.
July 20, 2009 July Reporting Reminders. Monthly filers have a report due today, July 20.  Semi-annual filers (e.g., those PACs and party committees that filed quarterly in 2008) have a report due on Friday, July 31. (Most authorized committees of candidates filed their quarterly reports last week, on July 15.) Electronic filers are reminded to use the new electronic filing format (see last week's tip for details). Additionally, authorized committees, leadership PACs and party committees that received bundled contributions from lobbyists, lobbyist registrants or lobbyist/registrant PACs may need to file FEC Form 3L with their July report. For additional information, visit our lobbyist bundling disclosure page.
July 13, 2009 Update Your Software Now to Prepare for This Month's Reporting. The latest version of FECFile (Build 6.4.1.2) was released on July 8, 2009 and can be downloaded at http://www.fec.gov/elecfil/updatelist.shtml. Any report filed after that date (including those due this month) must be filed using the new version. If you use commercial software, contact your vendor to ensure they are using the latest electronic filing format.
July 6, 2009 Your Feedback Needed Regarding the FEC Website and Communications. The Commission seeks your comments by July 21, 2009, regarding possible improvements to its website and Internet communications. The agency will hold a public hearing on the subject July 29-30. Visit http://www.fec.gov/pages/hearings/internethearing.shtml for a copy of the hearing announcement and request for comments, and other relevant information.
June 29, 2009 Forwarding and Depositing Contributions - Deadlines for Treasurers. Did you know that treasurers have to pay attention to two different deadlines when a committee receives a contribution? First, when any person receives a contribution of any amount for a campaign (or a contribution in excess of $50 for a PAC or party committee), that person has 10 days to forward the contribution to the treasurer. (The deadline for forwarding contributions of $50 or less to a PAC or party committee is 30 days). See 11 CFR 102.8. Second, the treasurer must deposit the contribution within 10 days after he or she receives it from the person who initially collected it. 11 CFR 103.3(a). By the way, the date of receipt for reporting purposes is the date that person initially received the contribution (so the date and other records must be forwarded along with the contribution). For more information, see the chapters on fundraising and recordkeeping in your Campaign Guide and the regulations linked above.
June 23, 2009 Summer Deadlines and Vacations. It's Summer, so staff may be out of the office on vacation. In addition, the Commission will be closed Friday, July 3. Be sure to plan for these days off yet keep up with upcoming reporting deadlines and FEC software updates. FECFile version 6.4.1.0. was released May 14, 2009; any report filed after that date must use the new software format. Moreover, campaign committees and quarterly filing PACs and party committees active in the CA/32 special runoff election are reminded that the pre-Runoff report is due July 2. (Click here for more information).
June 15, 2009 June Reporting Reminder. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a report due Saturday, June 20, covering the month of May 2009. Please note that even though the FEC is not open on the 20th, the due date will not be extended, so plan accordingly to timely file your report.
June 8, 2009 Summer Learning Opportunity at the FEC. The FEC is holding concurrent roundtable workshops on reporting and e-filing using FECFile on July 8. The roundtables are for PACs, party committees, campaign committees and consultants, and cost $25 per workshop. For more information, click here or e-mail Conferences@fec.gov.
June 1, 2009

Trade Associations with Corporate Members Must Do the Two-Step. At last month's conference for trade associations, many questions were asked about the process for soliciting employees of corporate members of a trade association. It’s a two-step process: First, the trade association must seek and receive formal approval (written or electronic) from the member corporation. The request must include language explaining the prior approval requirements and restrictions set forth in FEC requlations. Once the corporate member grants "prior approval," the association may solicit the member’s individual executives and stockholders for PAC contributions. See 11 CFR 114.8 and Appendix C of the Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations for more information about the specific requirements for prior approval requests.

May 27, 2009 Make Your Plans for Summer Outreach Now! Plans are underway for the FEC to bring its state outreach program to three cities this summer: Tallahassee, FL (June 24-25), Columbus, OH (July 28-29) and Kansas City, MO (Date TBA). Specialists will conduct informal, targeted, workshops on the law and answer your questions in person. Specific schedules for each city will be available soon at http://www.fec.gov/info/outreach.shtml#state. Workshops are free but pre-registration is required. For more information, e-mail Conferences@fec.gov and specify the city you are interested in attending and the type of organization you are with (i.e., campaign, party, PAC, etc.).
May 18, 2009 May Reporting Reminder. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a regular report due May 20, covering the month of April. Some committees may also have to file lobbyist bundling reports on FEC Form 3L on that day as well - see last week's tip for details.
May 11, 2009

Some Committees Required to File Lobbyist Bundling Reports on May 20. On May 20, 2009, certain monthly filing leadership PACs, Presidential campaigns and political party committees must file FEC Form 3L for the first time. Under the new lobbyist bundling disclosure rules, the above "reporting committees" must disclose information about lobbyist/registrants and lobbyist/registrant PACs that forwarded, or that the committee credited with raising, two or more bundled contributions aggregating in excess of $16,000 during the specific covered period from March 19 through April 30, 2009. See the May 2009 Record and the Commission's Lobbyist Bundling Disclosure home page for more information.

May 4, 2009 Electronic Distribution of Record Begins in July 2009. Starting with the July 2009 issue, the FEC will no longer print and mail copies of its monthly newsletter, the Record, and will instead distribute it electronically. The Record will continue to be made available each month on the FEC web site at http://www.fec.gov/pages/record.shtml, and the FEC will notify all registered committees via e-mail each time a new issue is posted. Individuals and organizations who are not registered with the Commission, but who would like to continue to receive the Record, can subscribe through FECMail to receive e-mail notification when a new issue is posted to the web site. Subscribing is easy. Simply visit our web site at http://www.fec.gov/pages/record.shtml and click on the link “Sign-up to
receive an e-mail notification when a new issue of the Record is posted.” Upon request, the Commission will print and mail copies to individuals who do not have computer access.
April 27, 2009 Special Post-General Report Reminders. The Post-General report is due Thursday, April 30, for candidates in the March 31st special general election in New York's 20th Congressional district. Quarterly-filing PACs or party committees that have made contributions to any of the candidates in this special elections (or independent expenditures for or against them) may also have to file this report. Candidates filing special election post-general reports in this and other special general elections across the country are reminded that they must file the special Post-General report using the Post-Election Detailed Summary Page. [House/Senate version / Instructions].
April 20, 2009 Trade Association or Membership Organization? Sometimes membership organizations are not sure whether the more specific rules for trade associations apply to them. While all trade associations are membership organizations under FEC rules, not all membership organizations are trade associations. For example, labor organizations and chambers of commerce fit into the broader definition of membership organization, but do not fit into the definition of a trade association. An organization is a trade association under FEC regulations if its membership is engaged in a similar or related line of commerce or business (i.e., all the members of the organization are in the same industry) and if the organization promotes and tries to improve the business conditions of its membership. To learn more about the rules that apply to trade associations, membership organizations and labor organizations, register now for the FEC's May 21-22 conference in Washington DC for these organizations!
April 13, 2009 Campaigns file with FEC on Tax Day. Most federal candidates' campaign committees file quarterly reports this Wednesday, April 15. PACs and party committees file either monthly or semiannually this year, and Presidential campaigns that filed monthly in 2008 continue to do so in 2009.
April 7, 2009

New Address for Senate Filers. The mailing address for FEC reports filed by Senate campaign committees as well as political committees that support only Senate candidates has changed. Starting with the Form 3 filing due April 15, Senate campaign reports should be sent to:

Secretary of the Senate
Office of Public Records
P.O. Box 2517
Alexandria, VA 22301-0517

March 30, 2009 California 32nd District Special Election Reports Due in May. There will be a special general election in California's 34nd District on May 19, 2009, and if needed, a special runoff election in that district on July 14, 2009. The reporting schedule for special pre-general (and if needed, post-general and pre-runoff) reporting in regard to these elections is available online. Quarterly-filing PACs or party committees that make or have made contributions to any of the candidates in these special elections (or independent expenditures for or against them) may also have to file these or other additional reports; see this Federal Register notice for details.
March 23, 2009 New FEC Form 3L Now Available. FEC Form 3L, the new form to be used by campaigns, leadership PACs and party committees to disclose contributions bundled by lobbyists, registrants and lobbyist/registrant PACs, is now available. Click here to download Form 3L / Instructions [PDF].
March 16, 2009 March Reporting Notes. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a report due Friday, March 20, covering the month of February. On March 10, FECFile Version 6.3.1.1 became available for download from the FEC Web site at http://www.fec.gov/elecfil/updatelist.shtml. Any report filed after that date must be filed using the new software. The new format corrects some technical issues and allows for the amendments to Form 1 that are due by March 29 for lobbyist/registrant and leadership PACs.
March 10, 2009 Lobbyist Bundling Disclosure Update. Many PACs have contacted the FEC to find out their requirements under the new lobbyist bundling disclosure rules. As noted in a previous tip, PACs that are lobbyist/registrant PACs or leadership PACs must file an amended Form 1 by March 29, 2009. Any brand new PACs that are lobbyist/registrant PACs or leadership PACs must disclose themselves as such when filing their initial Form 1 as of March 19, 2009. FEC Form 1 has been amended to accommodate these changes in the law and the new version is now available on the FEC's web site at http://www.fec.gov/info/guidance/hlogabundling.shtml.
February 26, 2009 Clarification of 2/24/09 Tip. The March 30 deadline listed in the Commission's February 17 Federal Register Notice for lobbyist/registrant PACs to amend their FEC Form 1 (Statement of Organization) is incorrect. As noted in our tip of February 24, the actual deadline for filing the Form 1 amendments is Sunday, March 29, 2009. A corrected Federal Register notice is available.
February 24, 2009 Lobbyist Bundling Rules Require New Filings for Many Committees. New disclosure regulations for contributions bundled by lobbyists/registrants and lobbyist/registrant PACs take effect later this spring. Lobbyist/registrant PACs and leadership PACs will be among the first committees affected. Beginning March 19, new committees in those categories must identify themselves as such on their Statements of Organization (FEC Form 1). Existing lobbyist/registrant PACs and leadership PACs will have until March 29 to identify themselves by amending their Statements of Organization. In May, leadership PACs and party committees that file monthly will file the first lobbyist bundling disclosure reports. Authorized committees of candidates and leadership PACs and party committees that file quarterly (semiannually in the nonelection year) will file their first reports in July. The Commission plans to release its revised FEC Form 1 in early March and the new FEC Form 3L in time for the May filings. For additional information, visit our lobbyist bundling rulemaking page.
February 17, 2009 Monthly Reporting Notes. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a report due Friday, February 20, covering the month of January. A special note: Recent inquiries to the Commission's 800 Line have asked if monthly filing committees have to file additional special election reports. The answer is no, as such activity is included on their regular monthly report.
February 9, 2009 Time to Make Spring Break Plans to Attend the FEC Corporate Conference! The FEC has begun registration for its popular annual conference for corporations and their PACs, to be held April 2-3, 2009, in Washington, DC. Review the basics and update your knowledge of the laws affecting your federal corporate PAC. You'll have a chance to meet FEC Commissioners, senior staff and the person who reviews your FEC report, all the while networking and sharing ideas with other corporate PAC professionals from around the country. Space is limited so early registration is highly recommended!
February 2, 2009 Illinois 5th District Special Election Reports Due in February and March. There will be a special primary election in Illinois' 5th District on March 3, 2009, and a special general election in that district on April 7, 2009. The reporting schedule for special pre-primary, pre-general and post-general reporting in regard to these elections is available online. Quarterly-filing PACs or party committees that make or have made contributions to any of the candidates in these special elections (or independent expenditures for or against them) may also have to file these or other additional reports.
January 29, 2009 Year-End Reporting Reminder. All committees are reminded that the Year-End report is due Saturday, January 31, covering from the date your last report left off through December 31. Please note that the Commission does not have statutory authority to extend filing deadlines, even when they occur on weekends. Authorized committees for 2008 candidates who were not in the general election will also need to remember to use the Post-Election Detailed Summary Page.
January 23, 2009 New Contribution Limits Now Available. Certain contribution limits are indexed for inflation each election cycle. The adjusted limits for the 2009-10 cycle are now available at http://www.fec.gov/info/contriblimits0910.pdf.
January 21, 2009 Resolved: Get Up to Date on FEC Rules. Looking to keep your resolution to get training on the federal campaign finance law? Make plans now to attend an FEC conference this year. Registration has begun for the FEC's annual Washington DC conference for House/Senate campaigns and political party committees, to be held March 3-4. Other conferences will be held later this Spring and Fall in Washington DC, Chicago and San Francisco for corporate, labor and trade association PACs, campaigns and party committees. Sign up for our conference e-mail list to be notified when registration opens for these.
January 12, 2009 New Limits Coming Soon. Certain contribution limits are indexed for inflation each election cycle. The Commission expects to receive by the end of January the cost of living data necessary to adjust the limits for the 2009-10 election cycle. As soon as that information becomes available, we will post the new limits on our website and will publish them in the Federal Register and in our monthly Record newsletter and other publications.
January 5, 2009 2009 Reporting Dates Are Now Available. The Commission has posted on its web site the 2009 reporting schedules for candidates, parties and PACs. Grab your new calendar and make a note of the due dates!

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