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For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Bob Biersack

November 19, 2007

George Smaragdis

Michelle Ryan

 

FEC Completes Action in Seven Enforcement Cases; Two State Parties Agree to Civil Penalties Totaling $17,000

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission (FEC/the Commission) recently completed action seven on enforcement cases.

In MUR 5921, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty for failing to disclose all financial activity on its 2003 Year-End Report.  An amended Year-End Report disclosed additional disbursements totaling $706,530 that were omitted from the committee’s originally-filed report.

In MUR 5909, the Arizona Republican Party (ARP) agreed to pay a $7,000 civil penalty for failing to disclose all financial activity on its 2006 April Monthly Report.  An amended version of the report disclosed additional receipts totaling $232,238 that were omitted from the committee’s originally-filed report.

In MUR 5830, the Commission found no reason to believe the U.S. - Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC) or Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc. (CDA) violated the Act.  The matter centered on allegations that the committee improperly registered with the FEC as a nonconnected committee instead of a separate segregated fund (SSF) sponsored by Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc., and accepted prohibited foreign national contributions from CDA’s founder Leopoldo Fernandez-Pujals.  The Commission concluded there was no information indicating the PAC was financially supported by CDA or that the individuals identified in the complaint made prohibited contributions to U.S. – Cuba Democracy PAC.

In MUR 5711, the Commission found no reason to believe Senator Barbara Boxer (CA), Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA) or Representative Nancy Pelosi (CA/08) violated the Act by soliciting funds that violated the limits and prohibitions of the Act in connection with a non-federal election.  The complaint alleged the Federal officeholders solicited contributions for California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides because their names and images appeared on his campaign committee’s website and they were listed as “Campaign Co-Chairs.”  The Commission concluded that the Angelides homepage on which the Federal officeholders appeared did not constitute a solicitation.  A Statement of Reasons from Chairman Lenhard, Vice Chairman Mason, and Commissioners von Spakovsky and Walther is available at: http://www.fec.gov/members/von_Spakovsky/sor/sormur5711.pdf.

MUR 5865 stemmed from allegations that the New Trier Democratic Organization (NTDO) made, and that Dan Seals for Congress, the principal campaign committee of 2006 House candidate Dan Seals (IL/10), received, an in-kind contribution when NTDO paid for a mass mailing that advocated Seals’ election.  The complaint alleged each committee failed to report the in-kind contribution and that the communication failed to include adequate disclaimers.  The FEC found that the complaint provided no facts to support the claim that NTDO coordinated the mailing with the Seals committee.  The Commission admonished NTDO for failing to include adequate disclaimers in the communication and found no reason to believe NTDO or Dan Seals for Congress violated the Act by failing to report an in-kind contribution. 

In MUR 5860, the Commission found no reason to believe that Friends of Conrad Burns, the principal campaign committee of Senator Conrad Burns (MT), violated the Act.  The complaint was filed by a resident of Montana who allegedly received a 60-second automated phone call on Burns’ behalf in September 2006 that included no disclaimer information.  The complainant alleged the call was made by the Senator’s re-election campaign or another organization working on Senator Burns’ behalf.  Senator Burns’ campaign stated categorically that it had no role in or knowledge of the phone call.  The Commission had no information to the contrary and no information implicating the involvement of any other registered political committee, working either independently or on behalf of the Burns campaign, in the telephone call alleged in the complaint.

In MUR 5755, the Commission initially found reason to believe that NDN Political Fund (NDN) failed to register and report as a political committee and to comply with the Act’s contribution limits and source prohibitions (or, in the alternative, that NDN and the existing New Democrat Network PAC were operating as a single political committee which failed to properly allocate federal funds for certain expenses).  The FEC concluded that evidence obtained during the investigation did not support the conclusion that NDN should have registered as a political committee or that the group and its existing PAC were operating as a single political committee.  The Commission therefore voted to take no further action in the matter.

Under the 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 5921

RESPONDENTS:

Iowa Democratic Party and Ken Sagar in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (Reports Analysis Division)

SUBJECT:

Failure to disclose financial activity

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation agreement: $10,000 civil penalty

The matter originated from information ascertained by the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) in the course of its supervisory responsibilities.  According to RAD’s referral, the Iowa Democratic Party (IDP) failed to disclose all disbursements on its original 2003 Year-End Report.

IDP filed its original 2003 Year-End Report on January 30, 2004 and filed an amended version of the report on March 22 of that year disclosing additional disbursements totaling $706,530. 

Respondents contended the failure to disclose all disbursements was unintentional and resulted from technical problems that occurred while importing data into the software.

The Commission found reason to believe IDP violated the Act by failing to disclose all financial activity.  The respondents agreed to pay a $10,000 civil penalty and cease and desist from committing similar future violations.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5921 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 5909

RESPONDENTS:

Arizona Republican Party and Timothy Lee in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (Reports Analysis Division)

SUBJECT:

Failure to disclose financial activity

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation agreement: $7,000 civil penalty

The matter originated from information ascertained by the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) in the course of its supervisory responsibilities.  According to RAD’s referral, the Arizona Republican (ARP) failed to disclose all receipts on its original 2006 April Monthly Report.

ARP filed its original 2006 April Monthly Report on April 20, 2006 and filed an amended version of the report on May 17 of that year disclosing additional receipts totaling $232,238. 

Respondents contended the failure to disclose all receipts was due to a late discovery of lack of data entered into the reporting software.  ARP further stated the error had never occurred before and the committee had taken steps to make sure the data entry is finished in a timely manner.

The Commission found reason to believe ARP violated the Act by failing to disclose all financial activity.  The respondents agreed to pay a $7,000 civil penalty and cease and desist from committing similar future violations.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5909 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 5830

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Leopoldo Fernandez-Pujals

b.)  Mauricio Claver-Carone

c.)  Gus Machado

d.)  Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc. (CDA)

e.)  U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC) and Gus Machado in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)

SUBJECT:

a,b.)  Foreign national prohibition; contributions in the name of another

c.) Violations of the Act

d.) Foreign national prohibition

e.) Solicitation of funds from the general public; making a false statement to the Commission; foreign national prohibition; contributions in the name of another

DISPOSITION

a-e.)  No reason to believe

According to the complaint, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy Political Action Committee (PAC), knowingly registered as a nonconnected committee with the Commission when it should have registered as the separate segregated fund (SSF) of Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc. (CDA).  The complaint further alleged the majority of contributions raised by the PAC were impermissible because they were raised from sources outside the restricted class of Cuba Democracy Advocates, Inc (i.e., members of the organization). 

The complaint also alleged Leopoldo Fernandez-Pujals, a foreign national and the founder of CDA, violated the Act by contributing indirectly to the PAC and participating both directly and indirectly in the decision-making process for the PAC.  According to the complaint, contributions totaling $3,759 made by Mauricio Claver-Carone, the Executive Director of CDA, to the PAC were indirect contributions from Mr. Fernandez-Pujals.

The PAC asserted that it properly registered with the FEC as a nonconnected committee because it maintained organizational and financial independence from CDA itself, and denied the receipt of any foreign national contributions.  In separate statements, CDA, Mr. Fernandez-Pujals and Mr. Claver-Carone claimed CDA was never involved in political activity and Mr. Fernandez-Pujals never sought to direct or exert influence over any member of CDA’s board regarding election-related activity.

The Commission concluded there was no information indicating the PAC was financially supported by CDA and should have registered as an SSF.  Accordingly, the Commission found no reason to believe the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC violated the Act by soliciting funds from the general public.

The Commission further found no reason to believe Mr.    Fernandez Pujals violated the Act by making an indirect contribution to the PAC or participating in the PAC’s decision making process.  The Commission also found no reason to believe CDA, the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC or Mauricio Claver-Carone violated the foreign national prohibition.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5830 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 5711

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Senator Dianne Feinstein

b.)  Senator Barbara Boxer

c.)  Representative Nancy Pelosi

d.)  Phil Angelides

COMPLAINANT:

California Republican Party and George M. Sundheim, III, chairman

SUBJECT:

a-c.)  Solicitation of funds in connection with a non-federal election that are not compliant with Federal limits and prohibitions

d.) Aiding and abetting the other respondents

DISPOSITION

a-c.)  No reason to believe (re: solicitation of funds in connection with a non-federal election that are not compliant with Federal limits and prohibitions)

d.)  Dismiss the matter

The complaint alleged Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and Representative Nancy Pelosi jointly solicited non-federal funds, or soft money, on the campaign website of California gubernatorial candidate Phil Angelides.  The complaint also alleged the soft money solicitations failed to include adequate disclaimers concerning the intention of the Federal officeholders not to raise funds in excess of the limitations and prohibitions of the Act.  Finally, the complaint alleged Angelides aided and abetted other respondents’ alleged violations.

The homepage of Angelides’ gubernatorial campaign website included individual photos of Senator Boxer, Senator Feinstein and Representative Nancy Pelosi, identifying each by name and office held under the heading, “Campaign Co-Chairs.”  A link appeared opposite each labeled “Contribute,” “Volunteer,” and “Endorse Phil.”  The “Contribute” heading linked to a page providing the reader with instructions on how to make a contribution.  This page did not include any photographs or names of the federal officeholders listed as co-chairs and asked for contributions between $25 and $22,300 with a disclaimer statement regarding California contribution limits and the Federal foreign national prohibition.

Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Representative Pelosi denied any involvement in fundraising for the Angelides campaign and could not recall requests to use their name and likeness.

The Commission concluded that the Angelides homepage on which Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Representative Pelosi appeared was not a solicitation because it was not specifically dedicated to making donations, and did not automatically or exclusively direct viewers to such a page.  The FEC, therefore, found no reason to believe Senators Boxer and Feinstein and Representative Pelosi violated the Act by soliciting funds that did not comply with Federal limits and prohibitions.  The Commission also dismissed allegations that Phil Angelides violated the Act by aiding and abetting the other respondents.

A Statement of Reasons from Chairman Lenhard, Vice-Chairman Mason, and Commissioners von Spakovsky and Walther is available at:

http://www.fec.gov/members/von_Spakovsky/sor/sormur5711.pdf

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5711 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 5865

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Dan Seals for Congress and Harry Pascal in his official capacity as treasurer

b.)  New Trier Democratic Organization – Federal and Marvin Miller in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Tolbert Chisum

SUBJECT:

a,b.)  Failure to report an in-kind contribution; excessive in-kind contributions

b.)  Failure to include adequate disclaimers

DISPOSITION:

a,b)  No reason to believe (re: failure to report in-kind contribution; excessive in-kind contributions)

b.)  Admonish and dismiss the matter (re: disclaimers)

In October 2006, NTDO, the local party committee of the Democratic Party in Illinois, mailed an unknown number of flyers expressly advocating the election of Dan Seals and the Defeat of his opponent, Mark Kirk.  The flyers failed to include a disclaimer disclosing the source of payment and whether the communication was authorized by any federal candidate.

The Seals committee denied any involvement with the NTDO mailing and NTDO asserted that it produced the flyers without participation by or authorization of the Seals campaign. 

According to the Commission, the complaint provided no facts to support its claim that NTDO coordinated the mailing with the Seals committee. 

The FEC found no reason to believe NTDO made or Dan Seals for Congress received an in-kind contribution.  The Commission admonished NTDO for failing to include adequate disclaimers and dismissed the allegation because of the relatively low cost of the communication.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5865 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 5860

RESPONDENTS:

Friends of Conrad Burns – 2006 and James Swain in his official capacity as treasurer


COMPLAINANT:

John G. Mundinger

SUBJECT:

Failure to include adequate disclaimers

DISPOSITION:

No reason to believe

According to the complaint, automated recorded telephone calls made on behalf of Senator Conrad Burns (MT) failed to include adequate disclaimers.  The complainant alleged no disclaimer information was included in a call he received in September 2006, but he assumed it was made by the Senator’s principal campaign committee, Friends of Conrad Burns-2006, or some other organization working on his behalf.

Friends of Conrad Burns denied any involvement with the alleged phone call.

The Commission found no reason to believe the committee 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 5870 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 5755

RESPONDENTS:

a.) New Democrat Network-Non Federal Account (NDN Political Fund)

b.) New Democrat Network-PAC and Simon Rosenberg in his official capacity as treasurer

c.) New Democrat Network (inactive federal account (C00319772))

COMPLAINANT:

Republican National Committee and Bush-Cheney 04, Inc.

SUBJECT:

a.) Failure to register and report as a political committee; excessive and prohibited contributions

DISPOSITION:

 a.) Reason to believe, take no further action (re: Failure to register and report as a political committee; excessive and prohibited contributions)

b,c.) Take no action

The Commission decided to exercise its prosecutorial discretion and take no further action in this matter.  The evidence obtained during an investigation did not support a conclusion that NDN should have registered with the FEC as a political committee. During the 2004 cycle, NDN Political Fund spent approximately $12.5 million total, including approximately $5.8 million for the production and placement of 37 television, radio, and Internet advertisements.  Most of these advertisements had no references to federal candidates, but were instead aimed at promoting the Democratic "brand" among Hispanic and Latino voters and voters in Alaska, Oklahoma, and Colorado.  NDN Political Fund spent only a small fraction of its 2004 spending on advertisements that even referenced a clearly identified federal candidate.  The investigation also uncovered no membership or fundraising solicitations resulting in contributions under the Act.  As a result, the Commission concluded that the evidence did not clearly establish that NDN Political Fund qualified as a political committee.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5755 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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