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BEFORE THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION

In the matter of

College Republican National Committee Pre MUR 395

 

REPLY OF COMMISSIONER SCOTT E. THOMAS

TO STATEMENT OF REASONS

OF COMMISSIONERS MASON, SMITH AND WOLD

 

 

 

At issue in this matter was whether the College Republican National Committee (“CRNC”) failed to register and report as a “political committee” under the Act.  See 2 U.S.C. 433 and 434.   On November 6, 2001, by a vote of 2-3,[1] the Commission failed to approve a motion to keep this matter on the enforcement docket.  On November 9, 2001, I issued a Statement of Reasons explaining my disagreement with that vote and why I believed the matter should have remained on the enforcement docket.  In particular, I explained:

 

Where a case presents a fairly significant apparent violation—in this case the failure to disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on hard-edged partisan communications—and where leaving it on the docket will simply allow OGC to activate it if warranted, the better judgment would have been to preserve the agency’s options.

 

Pre MUR 395, Statement of Reasons of Commissioner Thomas at 5 (November 9, 2001)(“Thomas Statement”). 

 

On February 21, 2002, Commissioners Mason, Wold and Smith issued their own Statement of Reasons.  They stated that “Commissioner Thomas’s Statement of Reasons, with its strong language suggesting that CRNC has violated the law, needlessly and unfairly impugns the CRNC.”  Pre MUR 395, Statement of Reasons of Commissioners, Mason, Wold and Smith at 1 (February 21, 2002)(emphasis added).

 

I stand by my earlier Statement of Reasons.  As a recent National Journal article points out, it is more clear than ever that the College Republican National Committee may be operating as a political committee and not reporting its activity.  National Journal, March 16, 2002 at 798 (“The GOP’s Big Move on Campus”)(attached).  For example, the article reports that:

 

This March, the committee plans to invest $600,000 to $700,000 to hire 40 field representatives (mostly twenty-somethings just out of college) to work full-time for 12 weeks this fall in states with tight Senate, House, and gubernatorial races.  The plan is ambitious: The field reps will work on eight Senate and 20 House races.  [RNC Chairman Scott Stewart] will not name targeted states, but Republican Senate candidates in Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, and South Dakota are likely to benefit from the campus activists.

 

Id. at 798.  The article further reports:

 

[I]n 1999, [the College Republican National Committee’s] annual budget was around $250,000.  Today, it is $1.3 million.  Most of the Committee’s funding comes from small contributions, and the new money is allowing the group to hire field Representatives.  The Republican National Committee is picking up just a quarter of the tab for field reps; the college committee is paying the balance. 

 

Id.

 

My colleagues believe that to raise questions about whether this activity should be disclosed to the public “needlessly and unfairly impugns the CRNC.”  I continue to believe, however, that this is exactly the sort of enforcement matter that the Commission should be looking at.  As I wrote in my earlier Statement, “the heart of the Federal Election Campaign Act, as amended, is disclosure.”  Thomas Statement at 3.  By casting a blind eye to such undisclosed federal activity, the core provisions of the Act are undermined.

 

 

            5/3/02                                                                  /   s   /

___________________                                  ___________________________

Date                                                                 Scott E. Thomas

Commissioner  



[1] Commissioner McDonald and myself in favor; Commissioners Mason, Smith, and Wold opposed; Commissioner Sandstrom abstaining.