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For Immediate Release
April 24, 2006
Contact: Kelly Huff
Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
George Smaragdis
COMPLIANCE CASES MADE PUBLIC
 

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

1.

MUR 5569

RESPONDENT:

(a)   John Kobylt

(b)   Ken Chiampou

(c)   The John and Ken Show

(d)  KFI AM-640

(e)   Cynthia Matthews

(f)    Committee to Elect Cynthia Matthews (CA/26), Kinde         Durke, treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Donald F. McGahn, II, General Counsel, National Republican Congressional Committee

SUBJECT:

Corporate contribution; media exemption

  DISPOSITION:

(a-f)     No reason to believe*

            [re: any provision of the Act alleged in this matter]

The complainant alleged that a radio talk show called “The John and Ken Show,” and its hosts John Kybolt and Ken Chiampou, violated Federal Election law by providing and coordinating corporate contributions to benefit the Cynthia Matthews’ campaign. In a joint response, KFI AM-640, John Kobylt and Ken Chiampou asserted that KFI AM-640’s broadcasts of the show fall within the legitimate press function of a bona fide media entity, and are entitled to the Act’s media exemption. A joint response from Cynthia Matthews and the Committee denies coordination with the station with regard to the station’s programming. The Commission found no reason to believe that the respondents violated the Act in this matter and closed the case. Statement of Reasons were issued by Chairman Toner and Commissioners Mason and von Spakovsky.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5569under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

 

 

2.

MUR 5578

RESPONDENTS:

(a)   STF Productions, Inc. (STF)

(b)   Patty Wetterling for Congress (Mn/06), Al W. Patton, treasurer

(c)   Patty Wetterling

COMPLAINANT:

Donald F. McGahn, II, General Counsel, National Republican Congressional Committee

SUBJECT:

Corporate contribution; federal candidate or officeholder raised, spent or directed prohibited contribution

  DISPOSITION:

(a-b)    No reason to believe*

            [re: corporate contribution]

(b-c)    No reason to believe*

            [re: federal candidate or officeholder raised, spent or              directed prohibited contribution]

The complainant alleged that STF made, and the Committee received, a prohibited corporate contribution, by using of a corporate trademark owned by STF for the television program, “America’s Most Wanted,” in television and advertisements funded by the Committee. The complaint asserted that “America’s Most Wanted” is a corporate asset and the name is a protected trademark owned by STF and by using the name in the commercial and by “mimic[king] the tone and feel of the show,” the Committee improperly benefited from the value of the show’s trademarked name and goodwill and that this amounted to a prohibited corporate contribution.   Respondents argue that the reference to “America’s Most Wanted” does not constitute a prohibited corporate contribution and was used simply to identify Walsh to the audience. According to respondents, Walsh endorsed Wetterling in an individual capacity and volunteered his services for the commercial. STF and Wetterling responded that neither STF, Fox or any affilitated company endorsed Wetterling and that the Committee paid for all expenses associated with the advertisement. The advertisement does not display STF’s trademark or mimic the tone and feel of the show. The lack of corporate endorsement and the appearance of a personal message contained in the advertisement suggest that Walsh appeared in his individual capacity. According to respondents, Walsh and the candidate are long-time friends and STF initially did not know that the advertisement would identify Walsh as the host of the show. Because the Committee never used the trademarked logo in the advertisement, paid all expenses, did not include or suggest a corporate endorsement and Walsh appeared in his individual capacity, the Commission found no reason to believe there was a corporate contribution. Also, the Commission found no reason to believe that Wetterling and the Committee may have solicited, directed, transferred, or spend corporate funds.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5578 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

     

3.

MUR 5582

RESPONDENTS:

(a)   Abercrombie for Congress (HI/02), Jack Y. Endo, treasurer

(b)   Representative Neil Abercrombie

COMPLAINANT:

Samuel M. Slom

SUBJECT:

Excessive contributions; contributions in the name of another
  DISPOSITION:

(a-b)  No reason to believe*

          [re: any provision of the Act alleged in this matter]

The complainant alleged that Neil Abercrombie and Abercrombie for Congress violated the Act by soliciting and accepting excessive and prohibited contributions from four individuals previously sanctioned by State of Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission for violations of state campaign laws. The complainant surmises that since these individuals violated state campaign laws by making excessive contributions and contributions in the names of others to state political committees, it is possible that they made the same types of Federal contributions to the Respondents. Respondents admit accepting contributions from the individuals named in the complaint, but argue that the contributions are not excessive or prohibited. Respondents also insist that all of the complainant’s allegations are speculative, and that the information in the complaint offers no independent basis for investigation. Since the complainant offered no facts or specific information, and that the allegations were based solely on the Committee’s acceptance of contributions (which were within the limits of the Act) from individuals who were sanctioned by the State for violating State campaign laws, the Commission found no reason to believe there was a violation of the Act and closed the case.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5582 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

     

4.

MUR 5631

RESPONDENTS:

Alcona County Republican Party (ACRC)

COMPLAINANT:

Mark Brewer

SUBJECT:

In-kind contribution, disclaimers, failure to report independent expenditure

  DISPOSITION:

No reason to believe, but took no further action*

[re: in-kind contribution]

Dismiss the allegations and close the file*

[re: disclaimers; failure to report independent expenditure]

The complaint alleged that the ACRC violated the Act by placing political advertisements in the Alcona County Review. The complaint further stated that the advertisements constituted improper in-kind contributions to Bush-Cheney ’04 as well as Don Hooper and Richard Fortier, Republican candidates for congress; failed to include an appropriate disclaimer; and failed to properly report the expenditures for the advertisement as required. In its response, ACRC denies that if failed to include proper disclaimers in its political advertisements. In addition, although it did not deny the remaining allegations in the complaint, they claim that due to their limited membership and financial activity, it is exempt from election reporting requirements. Since the complaint lacks specific allegation the Commission found no reason to believe the ACRC violated the Act by making an in-kind contribution to either Bush-Cheney ’04 or Don Hooper for Congress. The Commission decided to exercise its prosecutorial discretion and dismiss the remaining allegations due to the modest amount paid for the advertisement and ACRC’s limited resources and federal activity.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5631 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

     

5.

MUR 5665

RESPONDENTS:

(a)   Take Back the House (TBTH), M. Mickey Williams,          treasurer

(b)   Interactive Digital Software Association Non-Federal PAC 1

(c)   AT&T Corporation

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (RAD)

SUBJECT:

Excessive contribution; corporate contribution; labor union contribution; prohibited contribution; failure to timely file disclosure reports

  DISPOSITION:

(a) Conciliation Agreement: $ 5,000 civil penalty*

      [re: excessive contribution; corporate contribution; labor   union contribution; prohibited contribution; failure to timely file disclosure reports]

      Respondents will file a termination report with the            Commission. Respondent TBTH, through recent filings with the Commission and additional representations, has indicated that financial hardship prevents it from paying a civil penalty greater than $5,000 and agree that if its financial situation improves materially prior to termination, it will immediately disgorge any funds to the United States Treasury.

(b) Conciliation Agreement: $1,250 civil penalty*

      [re: prohibited contribution]

      Respondent will waive its right to a refund of the contribution and will instruct Take Back the House to disgorge the $2,500 contribution to the U.S. Treasury.

(c)  Reason to believe, but took no further action*

      [re: corporate contribution]     

This matter originated from a referral by the Reports Analysis Division. The referral provided the basis for the Commission’s finding reason to believe that TBTH accepted a $5,000 excessive contribution, a $20,000 corporate contribution from AT&T, a $25,000 contribution from a labor organization and a $2,500 contribution from a nonfederal committee that lacked sufficient federal funds to make a contribution. AT&T responded to the Commission’s findings by providing documentary evidence indicating that it made a corporate contribution to TBTH based upon the misconception that TBTH was a nonfederal committee and TBTH’s assurances that it could lawfully accept corporate contributions. The Commission conciliated with both Take Back the House and Interactive Digital Software Association. The Commission found reason to believe with regard to AT&T Corporation but decided to take no further action.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5665 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

     

6.

MUR 5673

RESPONDENTS:

(a)   Sandy Lyons for Congress (NC/10), Melissa B. Jordan,treasurer

(b)   Sanford David “Sandy” Lyons

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (RAD)

SUBJECT:

Failure to timely file Form 10s (Notification of Expenditures from Personal Funds)

  DISPOSITION:

(a-b)    Conciliation Agreement: $34,000 civil penalty*

            [re: failure to timely file Form 10s (Notification of             Expenditures from Personal Funds – required under the requirement of the so-called “Millionaire’s Amendment")

This matter was a referral by the Reports Analysis Division. According to commission disclosure records, Lyons made a series of contributions to his Committee from his personal funds between January 6 and August 31, 2004, all designated to the primary election. As expenditures from Lyons’ personal funds exceeded the $350,000 aggregate threshold on July 9, 2004, the FEC Form 10 was due no later than July 10, however the Commission did not received Lyons’ FEC Form 10 until July 14, 2004, four days after the deadline. The Commission conciliated with the respondents and closed the case.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5673 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  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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