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For Immediate Release
May 3, 2006

 

Contact:

Kelly Huff
Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
George Smaragdis

PRO-LIFE CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE VIOLATES lAW BY FAILING TO REPORT RECEIPTS AND DISBURSMENTS

Washington -- The Pro-Life Campaign Committee and its treasurer, Pablo Gersten, have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $150,000 to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to resolve violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act.   The conciliation agreement between the parties stemmed from the Committee’s failure to disclose millions of dollars of receipts and disbursements in its original disclosure reports for 2001 and the first six months of 2002.

The Committee originally filed its 2001 Mid-Year and Year End, and 2002 April and July Quarterly Reports on paper when electronic filing was required. When the Committee finally filed these reports electronically in 2003, they were late by periods ranging from seven months to nearly two years.

The Committee also submitted amendments to these reports that included millions of dollars in additional receipts and disbursements not initially disclosed. The majority of the increased receipts were unitemized contributions, and 90% or more of the increased disbursements were payments to Capitol Communications, Inc., a now defunct Arizona telemarketing firm contracted by the Committee to conduct fundraising.

The Committee’s fundraising contract provided that Capitol would develop scripts, make telephone calls, send follow-up letters, create program reports and maintain a database. The funds raised by Capitol were deposited into an escrow account controlled by an escrow agent. The escrow agent distributed these funds in part to the Committee and in part to Capitol and other vendors, for other expenses incurred in connection with the fundraising program, such as printing, mailing and rental fees for telephone call lists.

The law required the Committee to report all receipts and disbursements in conjunction with this fundraising effort, but the Committee originally reported as unitemized receipts only the amounts it ultimately received from the escrow agent and some relatively small amounts raised independently of Capitol, and as itemized receipts, those contributions raised by Capitol that were over $200.  It failed to report nearly all of the disbursements made as part of the contract with Capitol.

The reporting errors were discovered by the Committee and their counsel in early 2003 and the Committee filed amended 2001 Mid-Year, 2001 Year-End, 2002 April Quarterly and 2002 July Quarterly Reports.

MUR 5616

RESPONDENTS:

Pro-Life Campaign Committee, Pablo Gersten, treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (RAD)

SUBJECT:

Failure to file disclosure reports timely; failure to accurately report receipts and disbursements

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation Agreement: $150,000 civil penalty*

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5616 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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