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For Immediate Release
January 16, 2004
Contact: George Smaragdis
Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
COMPLIANCE CASES MADE PUBLIC

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Election Commission has recently made public its final action on six matters previously under review (MURs). This release contains only disposition information.

1. MUR 5024  
     
  RESPONDENT: (a) Council for Responsible Government, Inc., and its Accountability Project

(b) Gary Glenn

(c) William "Bill" Wilson

  COMPLAINANTS: Kean for Congress
  SUBJECT: Corporate expenditures; failure to register and report; disclaimers
  DISPOSITION: (a) Failed by a vote of 3-3 to find reason to believe [re: corporate expenditures, failure to register and report, disclaimers]

(b-c) Failed by a vote of 3-3 to find reason to believe [re: corporate expenditures]

The Commission failed by a vote of 3-3 to find reason to believe that the respondents violated the Act and then voted 6-0 to close the file.

Chair Weintraub and Commissioners Thomas and McDonald explained in their statement of reasons that, after reviewing the applicable case law, including Buckley and MCFL, the Commission's regulations, the text of the advertisements and the circumstances surrounding their broadcast, the communications contained express advocacy and were expenditures.

Vice Chairman Smith and Commissioners Mason and Toner noted in their statement of reasons that the language of the brochures failed the express advocacy standard under all major cases, including Buckley and MCFL, except possibly Furgatch, and that even under Furgatch, the call to action was too tenuous to support an express advocacy finding.

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commissionís web site at fec.gov by entering 5024 under case number. They are also available in the FEC's Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.
     
2. MUR 5146  
     
  RESPONDENTS: (a) Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, Alan Helmkamp, treasurer

(b) Gore/Lieberman, Inc., Jose Villarreal, treasurer

(c) Zouher Abdel-Hak

(d) Ismael Ahmed

(e) Terry Ahwal

(f) Ronald Amen

(g) Maya Berry

(h) Ahmad Chebbani

(i) Ali Dagher

(j) Dennis Denna

(k) Raleef El-Hajj

(l) Gabriel Fakhouri

(m) Michael Farrah

(n) David Ferris

(o) Joseph Ganim

(p) William George

(q) Mark Haider

(r) Alex Issac

(s) Teresa Isaac

(t) Sally Shaheen Joseph

(u) Ted Mansour

(v) Samir Mashni

(w) Imam Mohammad Mardini

(x) John Nickola

(y) Mary Rose Oakar

(z) Mohamad Okdie

(aa) Nick Rahall

(bb) William Shaheen

(cc) Donna E. Shalala

(dd) James Stokes

(ee) William Swar

(ff) Stephen Yokich

(gg) Nabeel Yousif

(hh) Dr. James J. Zogby

  COMPLAINANT: Michigan Republican State Committee
  SUBJECT: Disclaimers; reporting independent expenditures; Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act; corporate/labor contributions
  DISPOSITION: (a) Reason to believe [re: disclaimers, failure to report independent expenditures]

(a) No reason to believe [re: Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act]

(a) Take no action [re: corporate/labor contributions]

(b-hh) No reason to believe [re: any provision]

The Commission failed by a vote of 2-4 to conduct discovery and then voted 6-0 to take no further action relative to the reason to believe determinations.

The Michigan Democratic State Central Committee was alleged to have violated the Act by failing to include a disclaimer on a newspaper advertisement that allegedly expressly advocated the election of Al Gore.

Chair Weintraub and Commissioners Thomas and McDonald noted in their statement of reasons that they agreed with the General Counsel's conclusion that the newspaper advertisement contained express advocacy. However, having just seen the Commission fail by 3-3 votes to pursue examples of express advocacy in MURs 5024 and 5154, they believed it would be unfair to single out the Michigan State Central Committee.

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commissionís web site at ffec.gov by entering 5146 under case number. They are also available in the FEC's Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.
     
3. MUR 5154  
     
  RESPONDENTS: Sierra Club, Inc.
  COMPLAINANT: George Lippencott
  SUBJECT: Corporate Expenditure
  DISPOSITION: Failed by a vote of 3-3 to find reason to believe [re: corporate expenditures]

The Commission failed by a vote of 3-3 to find reason to believe that the Sierra Club, Inc. violated the Act when they published a voter guide that allegedly contained express advocacy. The Commission then voted 6-0 to dismiss this matter.

Vice Chairman Smith and Commissioners Mason and Toner noted in their Statement of Reasons that, while the Sierra Club's guide contained a message that the environment was an important issue, it did not contain express advocacy as articulated in case law and the Commission's regulations.

Chair Weintraub and Commissioners McDonald and Thomas stated in their Statement of Reasons that the voter guide contained express advocacy as defined by the Supreme Court in MCFL.

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commissionís web site at fec.gov by entering 5154 under case number. They are also available in the FEC's Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.
     
4. MUR 5296  
     
  RESPONDENTS: (a) Fletcher for Congress, Ronald Switzer, treasurer

(b) Honorable Ernie Fletcher

  COMPLAINANT: Gatewood Galbraith
  SUBJECT: Disclaimers
  DISPOSITION: (a-b) No reason to believe [re: any provision of the Act]

Congressman Ernie Fletcher's newsletter, Summer Update 2002, had been inserted into a newspaper but did not contain a disclaimer stating who paid for it. Congressman Fletcher responded by submitting a letter he had received from the House Commission on Congressional Mailing Standards that indicated that the mailing was in accordance with franking laws and that the newsletter was "frankable."

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commissionís web site at fec.gov by entering 5296 under case number. They are also available in the FEC's Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.
     
5. MUR 5344  
     
  RESPONDENTS: (a) Brabender Cox Mihalke Political, Inc.

(b) Santorum 2000, Judith M. McVerry, treasurer

  COMPLAINANT: Internal
  SUBJECT: Use of nonfederal funds to pay for contributions, excessive contributions, reporting contributions, disclaimers
  DISPOSITION: (a) Conciliation Agreement: $30,000 civil penalty

Brabender Cox Mihalke Political, Inc., violated the Act by making a $197,000 corporate in-kind contribution in the form of television ads. Santorum 2000 had instructed Brabender Cox Mihalke Political, Inc. not to run these ads. Santorum 2000's instructions were not carried out. Additionally, Brabender Cox Mihalke Political, Inc. failed to include the proper disclaimer.

(b) Take no further action

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commissionís web site at fec.gov by entering 5344 under case number. They are also available in the FEC's Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.
     
6. MUR 5394  
     
  RESPONDENTS: (a) Philadelphia 2000, Karen Dougherty Buchholz, treasurer

(b) Access Industries, Inc.

(c) Florida Crystals, Inc.

(d) Flo-Sun, Inc

(e) QTV, Inc.

(f) Voter.com

  COMPLAINANT: Internal
  SUBJECT: Acceptance of corporate contributions; settling debts for less than the committee owed
  DISPOSITION: (a) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: acceptance of prohibited corporate contributions totaling $85,000 from Access Industries and Voter.com]

(b) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: making prohibited corporate contributions totaling $25,000 to Philadelphia 2000]

(f) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: making prohibited corporate contributions totaling $60,000 to Philadelphia 2000]

(a) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: acceptance of prohibited corporate contributions totaling $50,000 from Florida Crystals, Inc. and Flo-Sun, Inc.]

(c) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: making prohibited corporate contributions totaling $25,000 to Philadelphia 2000]

(d) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: making prohibited corporate contributions totaling $25,000 to Philadelphia 2000]

(a) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: acceptance of prohibited corporate contributions totaling $65,000 from QTV, Inc.]

(e) Reason to believe but take no further action [re: making prohibited corporate contributions totaling $65,000 to Philadelphia 2000]

The Commission found reason to believe that Philadelphia 2000, host committee for the Republican Party's national nominating convention, received donations from the above referenced corporations, which were not located in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. However, in light of the fact that the Commission's new regulations governing host committees no longer contain a local presence requirement for donations, the Commission took no further action.

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commissionís web site at fec.gov by entering 5394 under case number. They are also available in the FEC's Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

 

*There are four administrative stages to the FEC enforcement process:

1. Receipt of proper complaint 3. "Probable cause" stage
2. "Reason to believe" stage 4. Conciliation stage

It requires the votes of at least four of the six Commissioners to take any action. The FEC can close a case at any point after reviewing a complaint. If a violation is found and conciliation cannot be reached, then the FEC can institute a civil court action against a respondent.

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