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For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Bob Biersack

October 1, 2007

George Smaragdis

Michelle Ryan

FEC Collects $63,000, Resolves 10 Enforcement Cases

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission (FEC/the Commission) recently resolved 10 enforcement cases.

In Matter Under Review (MUR) 5809, the Christian Voter Project agreed to pay a $38,000 civil penalty for failing to comply with multiple reporting provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act).  Amended reports filed by the committee revealed that it failed to file required 24 Hour and 48 Hour notices related to 2004 independent expenditures totaling $294,136.  The committee also failed to disclose additional independent expenditures totaling $125,022 and operating expenses totaling $58,656. 

In MUR 5750, Laffey US Senate, the principal campaign committee of 2006 Senate candidate Stephen Laffey (RI), agreed to pay a $25,000 civil penalty for failing to comply with the Act’s reporting requirements for earmarked contributions.  The committee received earmarked contributions through the Club for Growth (CFG), but failed to identify CFG as a conduit on FEC disclosure reports.  When a candidate committee receives earmarked contributions, it is required to report certain information regarding earmarked contributions that exceed an aggregate of $200, including the conduit’s identity, the total amount of earmarked contributions received, the date of receipt, and individual contributor information.  The Laffey committee received a total of $366,378 in earmarked contributions from CFG during 2005 and 2006. 

In MUR 5770, the Commission dismissed allegations that the City of Cranston, Rhode Island, and then-Mayor Stephen Laffey made, and Laffey US Senate accepted, a prohibited in-kind contribution.  The complaint centered on allegations that Cranston and Mayor Laffey coordinated with Laffey’s 2006 US Senate campaign committee to produce a cover letter from Mayor Laffey that was included with Cranston property tax bills.  The Commission dismissed the matter after determining it did not warrant further investigation.  A Statement of Reasons from Chairman Lenhard and Commissioners von Spakovsky, Walther, and Weintraub is available at [web link].

In MUR 5823, the Commission found no reason to believe Club for Growth (CFG) or its political action committee, Club for Growth PAC (CFG PAC), violated the Act.  The complaint alleged CFG and CFG PAC committed multiple violations of the Act by making communications coordinated with Federal candidates and using corporate general treasury funds to pay for portions of its political action committee (PAC) website containing endorsements of Federal candidates.  Additionally, the Commission dismissed allegations that CFG failed to register with the FEC as a political committee because these violations were the subject of now resolved district court litigation.  Consult the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/press/press2007/20070905cfg.shtml for additional information.

In MUR 5788, the Commission found no reason to believe the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania (RFCP) or Santorum 2006 violated the Act.  The complaint alleged that a mailer distributed by RFCP prior to the 2006 election was coordinated with Santorum 2006, the principal campaign committee then-Senator Rick Santorum (PA), and constituted an excessive in-kind contribution.  The Commission determined that the communication did not satisfy any of the content standards used to determine if a communication is coordinated, and specifically concluded that the mailer contained no express advocacy.  The Commission dismissed additional allegations that the communication failed to comply with the Act’s disclaimer requirements.

In MUR 5437, the Commission voted to take no further action and close the file in a matter involving Service Employees International Union Local 250 (SEIU) or its political action committee, SEIU Committee on Political Education (SEIU COPE).  The complaint alleged SEIU improperly solicited members for contributions to SEIU COPE by using threats of discipline and made contributions from the SEIU general treasury by requiring members to work on political campaigns as part of their job duties.  The complaint also alleged SEIU COPE accepted prohibited contributions from members who were foreign nationals.  However, following an extensive investigation, the Commission determined that there was insufficient evidence of the alleged violations and closed the file.

MUR 5806 centered on allegations that Kagen Allergy Clinic made a prohibited in-kind contribution to Kagen 4 Congress by developing and providing web site content at no charge.  Dr. Steven Kagen, owner of Kagen Allergy Clinic, ran for Congress in 2006 (WI/08).  Information regarding certain health initiatives that appeared on the Clinic’s web site appeared in materially identical form on the Kagen 4 Congress website.  The Commission determined that Kagen 4 Congress had paid for, and properly reported, expenses related to its website, and found no reason to believe any prohibited contribution was made to the campaign by either the clinic or Dr. Kagen.

The FEC dismissed three enforcement cases involving candidate debates.  In MUR 5817, 2004 Congressional candidate Werner Lange (OH/14) alleged that Lakeland Community College excluded him from a debate because he was not nominated by a political party.  In MUR 5847, Lange alleged he was excluded by the City Club of Cleveland for the same reason.  In MUR 5852, 2006 Michigan Senate candidate David Sole alleged he was excluded from a debate held at the Detroit Economic Club.  The Commission dismissed the allegations in all three matters after determining they did not warrant further review.

By law, the FEC must attempt to resolve its enforcement cases or Matters Under Review (MURs) through a confidential investigative process that may lead to a negotiated conciliation agreement between the Commission and the individual or group the Commission determines has violated the law.  Additional information regarding MURs can be found on the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/em/mur.shtml.

This release contains only summary information.  For additional details, please consult publicly available documents for each case in the Enforcement Query System (EQS) on the FEC website at http://eqs.fec.gov/eqs/searcheqs .

1.

MUR 5809

RESPONDENTS:

Christian Voter Project and Beverly Sheldon in her official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (Reports Analysis Division)

SUBJECT:

Failure to file timely reports for independent expenditures

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation Agreement: $38,000

The matter originated with information ascertained by the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) in the course of its supervisory responsibilities.  According to RAD’s referral, the respondents failed to file necessary 48-Hour and 24-Hour reports related to independent expenditures made by the Christian Voter Project (the Committee) in 2004.  Review of reports also indicated the Committee failed to disclose additional disbursements and dates of dissemination for independent expenditures.

Under the Act, a committee that makes independent expenditures aggregating $10,000 or more at any time up to and including the 20th day before the election is required to file a report detailing the expenditures within 48 hours.  The Committee’s amended 2004 April, July and October Quarterly Reports indicated that it failed to file eleven 48-Hour notices concerning 34 general election independent expenditures totaling $245,113.

Under the Act, a committee that makes independent expenditures aggregating $1,000 or more after the 20th day, but more than 24 hours before the election is required to file a report detailing the expenditures within 24 hours.  The Committee’s amended 2004 Post General Report indicated the committee failed to file five 24-Hour notices concerning 11 general election independent expenditures totaling $49,023.

Review of the Committee’s reports indicated the Christian Vote Project also failed to disclose certain disbursements, including independent expenditures and operating expenses, on its 2004 April Quarterly and 2005 Mid-year Reports.  Amended versions of the reports disclosed additional independent expenditures totaling $125,022.61 and operating expenses totaling $58,656.74.  The Commission also found that the Committee omitted the dates of independent expenditures from the 2004 April and October Quarterly Reports as well as the 2005 Mid-Year Report.

The Committee signed a conciliation agreement containing a civil penalty of $38,000.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5809 under case numbers 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 5750

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Laffey US Senate and Richard J. Sullivan in his official capacity as treasurer

b.)  Citizens Club for Growth (formerly Club for Growth)and Pat Toomey in his official capacity as treasurer

c.)  American Labor Services, Inc. and Vincent Indeglia, President

COMPLAINANT:

Ian Lang

SUBJECT:

a.)  Failure to disclose conduit information;
      Failure to disclose disbursements;
      Acceptance of prohibited corporate contribution

c.)  Making of prohibited corporate contribution or expenditure

DISPOSITION

a.)  Conciliation agreement: $25,000

a.)  No reason to believe

b.)  No reason to believe

c.)  Dismiss the matter and admonish

The complaint alleged Laffey US Senate failed to comply with multiple reporting provisions of the Act.  Additionally, the complaint alleged American Labor Services (ALS) made and Laffey US Senate accepted a prohibited corporate contribution. 

According to the complainant, the Laffey committee failed to comply with the Act’s reporting requirements by failing to disclose conduit information for contributions collected and forwarded by the Club for Growth (CFG).  Commission investigation revealed the Laffey committee received $366,378 in earmarked contributions from CFG between October 1, 2005 and March 31, 2006.  The committee admitted that it did not identify CFG as a conduit on its reports, but stated that it knew CFG was disclosing the contributions in its FEC reports.  The committee filed amended reports about one month after receiving the complaint.

The FEC found reason to believe Laffey US Senate violated the Act by failing to identify CFG as a conduit on disclosure reports filed with the Commission.  Respondents agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25,000 and cease and desist from committing future similar violations.  The Commission found no reason to believe CFG violated the Act.

The complaint also alleged the Laffey committee failed to disclose certain disbursements for mailing and printing.  The allegation was based on a news story in which Laffey’s campaign manager stated that the campaign spent $69,549 on direct mailings.  Reports filed with the FEC through March 2006 showed only $20,000 in mailing-related disbursements.  The Laffey committee claimed that the remaining balance was not reported because it did not receive invoices from the direct mail vendor exceeding a total $18,256 until after March 31, 2006.

The complaint alleged ALS made a prohibited corporate contribution to the Laffey committee by distributing to all ALS employees a letter expressly advocating the election of Stephen Laffey.  The complaint further alleged the letter, which was written on corporate letterhead and signed by ALS president Vincent Indeglia, was coordinated with the Laffey campaign or used to develop a voter list that was provided to the Laffey committee.  Indeglia and ALS claimed the letter was by Indeglia on his own time and expressed his personal opinions and made available to the general public in the ALS lobby, but not distributed to all employees.  Indeglia claimed he never created a “voter list” and the Laffey committee confirmed that it never received one from ALS or Indeglia.

The Commission determined that the letter expressly advocating Laffey’s election to the Senate constituted a corporate expenditure, but there was no evidence of coordination with the campaign.  Additionally, the costs to produce and distribute the letter in question were likely de minimis and the actual dissemination was very limited. 

The Commission found no reason to believe the Laffey committee violated the Act by either accepting a corporate contribution or failing to report disbursements and dismissed allegations against ALS and Indeglia, admonishing them for reasons listed above. 

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5750 under case numbers 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 5770

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Stephen Laffey

b.)  Laffey US Senate

c.)  City of Cranston, RI

COMPLAINANT:

William J. McGinley

SUBJECT:

a,c.)  Making of prohibited in-kind contribution

b.)  Acceptance of prohibited in-kind contribution

b.)  Failure to report prohibited in-kind contribution

DISPOSITION

a-c.) Dismiss the matter

Stephen Laffey was the Mayor of Cranston, RI when he ran for the U.S. Senate in 2006.  The complaint alleged that a letter sent by the City of Cranston and then Mayor Laffey to Cranston property owners constituted a prohibited in-kind contribution in the form of a coordinated expenditure. 

The letter at issue was mailed to Cranston property owners with city property tax bills.  It highlighted many accomplishments from the Laffey administration.  It also stated that Laffey would not be mayor during the next year and provided “Mayor Laffey’s Warning Signs” for the next administration at the bottom of the page.  The costs associated with the cover letter were $3,366.

Laffey contended that the purpose of letter was not to influence a Federal election since it only discussed the financial progress of the city made during his tenure as mayor.  The City of Cranston asserted that it paid for the communication and did not coordinate with Laffey.

The Commission dismissed the matter after determining that it did not warrant further use of the Commission’s limited resources.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5770 under case numbers 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 5823

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Citizens Club for Growth, Inc. (formerly Club for Growth, Inc.)

b.)  Citizens Club for Growth, Inc. PAC and Pat Toomey in his official capacity as treasurer

c.)  Walberg for Congress and Jeffrey Yeutter in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Matt Marsden

SUBJECT:

a.)  Failure to register and report as a political committee

a.)  Making of prohibited corporate contributions in form of coordinated communications

b.)  Making of and failure to report excessive in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated communications

c.)  Knowing acceptance of and failure to report excessive in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated communications

a.)  Use of corporate funds to pay for candidate endorsement materials on website shared with PAC

b.)  Failure to report disbursements for candidate endorsements

b.)  Making of and failure to report excessive in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated communications

DISPOSITION:

a.)  Dismiss allegations regarding failure to register and report as a political committee and find no reason to believe any violations of the Act occurred

b.)  No reason to believe

c.)  No reason to believe

The complaint alleged CFG and its political action committee, CFG PAC, committed multiple violations of the Act during the 2006 election cycle. 

First, the complaint alleged CFG failed to register and report as a political committee.  The Commission dismissed this allegation as a matter of prosecutorial discretion since these violations were the subject of ongoing District Court litigation and because the complainant relied primarily on information set forth in the District Court complaint filed against CFG.  Consult the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/press/press2007/20070905cfg.shtml for additional information.

Second, the complaint alleged CFG and CFG PAC made coordinated communications that criticized Walberg’s opponent by using three vendors also used by Walberg for Congress.  Further investigation revealed that the CFG and CFG PAC shared only one vendor with Walberg for Congress and all parties contended that no coordination took place.

Third, the complaint alleged CFG, rather than CFG PAC, paid for portions of its website endorsing Federal candidates.  The complaint further alleged CFG PAC failed to report these expenses as in-kind contributions on reports filed with the FEC.  Additional information provided during the Commission’s investigation showed that CFG PAC paid for and properly reported expenditures for photographs and promotional materials for endorsements on its website.

Finally, the complaint alleged the candidate endorsements on CFG and CFG PAC’s website were coordinated with the campaigns because they feature photographs and other material prepared by the candidates and their agents.  CFG PAC maintained that the endorsements were prepared in-house or using web designers.

The Commission dismissed the allegation that CFG failed to register and report as a political committee and found no reason to believe any of the respondents violated provisions of the Act.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5739 under case numbers 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 5788

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania and Patricia K. Poprik in her official capacity as treasurer

b.)  Santorum 2006 and Gregg R. Melinson in his official capacity as treasurer

c.)  Rick Santorum

COMPLAINANT:

Stanley Levine

SUBJECT:

a.)  Making of and failure to report excessive in-kind contribution

a.)  Failure to comply with disclaimer requirements of the Act

b,c.)  Acceptance of  excessive in-kind contribution

b.)  Failure to report excessive in-kind contribution

DISPOSITION:

a.) No reason to believe allegations regarding excessive in-kind contributions and dismiss allegations regarding inadequate disclaimers

b,c.)  No reason to believe

The complaint alleged the Republican Federal Committee of Pennsylvania (RFCP) made and Santorum 2006, the principal campaign committee of then Senator Rick Santorum (PA), accepted excessive in-kind contributions when RFCP disseminated a mailer prior to the 2006 General election.  The complaint further alleged the mailer contained express advocacy and did not comply with the Act’s disclaimer requirements.

Rick Santorum and Bob Casey, Jr. were candidates for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania in the 2006 general election.  Prior to the election, RFCP prepared and distributed a mailer contrasting the candidate’s positions on the immigration amnesty issue.  The mailer included a picture of and statement from Santorum in which he describes his position.  The mailer also included a picture of Casey superimposed on a broken barbed wire fence with bold lettering stating that “Bob Casey has come out in support of AMNESTY for those who have entered our country ILLEGALLY.” 

The complaint alleged the mailer was coordinated by the RFCP and Santorum because it included a statement from him and included an advertisement for Santorum’s website.  Respondents contended that the mailer did not constitute an in-kind contribution and did not contain express advocacy. 

The Commission determined that the mailer disseminated by RFCP did not satisfy the content standards of the coordination requirements and therefore did not constitute an in-kind contribution to Santorum 2006.  Specifically, the Commission determined that the mailer at issue did not contain express advocacy.  The FEC found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Act by making or receiving excessive in-kind contributions and dismissed the allegations regarding inadequate disclaimers as a matter of prosecutorial discretion.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5788 under case numbers 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 5437

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  SEIU United Healthcare Workers West (formerly SEIU Local 250)

b.)  Sal Rosselli, President

c.)  John Borsos, Vice-President

d.)  SEIU Committee on Political Education and Anna Burger in her official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Timothy A. Bonifay

SUBJECT:

a-d.)  Use of coercion to solicit PAC funds

d.)  Acceptance of prohibited contributions from foreign nationals

a.)  Making of prohibited contributions using general treasury funds

DISPOSITION:

a-d.)  Take no further action

The complainant, a former employee of SEIU Local 250, alleged SEIU along with its President, Sal Rosselli and Vice-President, John Borsos, violated multiple provisions of the Act.

According to the complaint, SEIU improperly solicited contributions to its PAC.  Specifically, the complainant alleged that Rosselli and Borsos used threats of discipline with union staff to increase contributions to SEIU COPE.  The complaint also alleged that a high percentage of members contributing to the PAC were foreign nationals who are prohibited from making contributions to political committees. Finally, the complainant alleged that SEIU made contributions or expenditures from the union’s general treasury funds to Federal campaigns by requiring paid union staff members to work on political campaigns as part of their job duties.

Following an investigation, the Commission determined that there was insufficient evidence of the alleged violations and took 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 5437 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

7.

MUR 5806

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Kagen 4 Congress and Kenneth E. Flood, Jr. in his official capacity as treasurer

b.)  Steven L. Kagen, MD

c.)  Kagen Allergy Clinic

COMPLAINANT:

Rick Wiley

SUBJECT:

a.)  Acceptance of prohibited in-kind contribution

b,c.)  Making of prohibited in-kind contribution

DISPOSITION:

a,b,c.)  No reason to believe.

The complaint alleged that Kagen Allergy Clinic made and Kagen 4 Congress, accepted a prohibited in-kind contribution.  Kagen was a doctor who owned Kagen Allergy Clinic, an unincorporated sole proprietorship, when he ran for Congress in 2006 and developed the “No Patient Left Behind” health initiative as part of his campaign. 

According to the complaint, the clinic made an in-kind contribution to the committee by providing it with content for its website at no charge.  The websites of the clinic and the campaign included materially identical content outlining the “No Patient Left Behind” initiative and narrated by the candidate. 

The committee disclosed $32,258 to the FEC for the set-up, media creation, updates and hosting of kagen4congress.com during the 2006 election cycle.  The committee claims that it paid for the creation of the website, including the content at issue, reported all related costs to the FEC and did not charge the clinic for use of content.

After investigating the allegations, the Commission determined that neither Kagen nor the clinic made any contributions in connection with the website content and found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Act.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5806 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

8.

MUR 5817

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Lakeland Community College

b.)  Jim Collins, Executive in Residence

COMPLAINANT:

Werner Lange

SUBJECT:

Improper exclusion from candidate debate

DISPOSITION:

a,b.)  Dismiss the matter

2004 Congressional candidate Werner Lange (OH/14), alleged that he was improperly excluded from a candidate debate sponsored by Lakeland Community College.  Specifically, he claims that he was not allowed to participate because he was not nominated by a political party.

According to the respondents, Lakeland community college only provided space, technical assistance and recording devices for the debate and participants were selected by The News Herald newspaper.  The newspaper’s editor claims that he invited the two major party candidates to a joint appearance and not to a debate, but claimed he used pre-established objective criteria to select participants.

The Commission dismissed the matter.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5817 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

9.

MUR 5847

RESPONDENTS:

City Club of Cleveland

COMPLAINANT:

Werner Lange

SUBJECT:

Improper exclusion from candidate debate

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss the matter

The complaint alleged that he was improperly excluded from a candidate debate held at the City Club of Cleveland between the Republican and Democratic candidates for Ohio’s 14th Congressional District. 

The respondents contended they offered Lange the opportunity to appear individually, but was not invited to participate in the debate because he did not meet pre-established criteria.

The Commission dismissed the matter.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5847  under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

10.

MUR 5852

RESPONDENTS:

Detroit Economic Club

COMPLAINANT:

David Sole

SUBJECT:

Improper exclusion from candidate debate

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss the matter

The complainant, a 2006 Senate candidate in Michigan, alleged he was improperly excluded from a debate between Republican and Democratic candidates held at the Detroit Economic Club.

The respondents contended they used pre-determined objective criteria to select debate participants including: constitutional eligibility, ballot access and demonstrated voter interest and support.

The Commission dismissed the matter.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5852 under case numbers 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
2. Reason to believe stage
3. Probable cause stage
4. Conciliation stage

FEC decisions require the votes of at least four of its six Commissioners.

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.

**The Enforcement Priority System (EPS) rates all incoming cases against objective criteria to determine whether they warrant use of the Commission’s limited resources.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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