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Weekly Digest

 

For Immediate Release

Contact

Judith Ingram

February 3, 2012

Julia Queen
  Christian Hilland
   
 

ISSUE 2012-05

Weekly Digest

Week of January 30 – February 3

COMMISSION MEETINGS

On February 2, the Commission held an Open Meeting. Click here for agendas and related documents for open meetings. Click here for audio recordings for selected meetings, hearings and presentations.

ADVISORY OPINIONS

Advisory Opinions Issued

AO 2011-27 (New Mexico Voices for Children). On February 2, the Commission concluded that New Mexico Voices for Children’s proposed severance payment to its former Executive Director, who is currently a candidate for federal office, will not result in a prohibited corporate contribution to the candidate under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, (the Act) or Commission regulations because the severance payment would be made irrespective of the individual’s candidacy for Congress.

AO 2011-28 (Western Representation PAC). On February 2, the Commission concluded that Western Representation PAC may not exclude the costs of independent expenditure advertisements placed on Facebook from the calculation of expenses included on its 24- and 48-hour reports. The Commission concluded further that Western Representation PAC must attribute the monthly cost of these independent expenditure advertisements to various states’ Presidential primary elections on Western Representation PAC’s regular monthly reports.

AO 2011-24 (StandLouder.com). On February 3, the Commission concluded that StandLouder.com may create an independent expenditure-only committee for the purpose of accepting advertisement content, receiving contributions, and funding independent expenditures. The Commission did not reach a consensus by four votes on a response to questions concerning 1) StandLouder.com’s political committee status, 2) the collective political committee status of StandLouder.com, the content creators, and the funders of the advertisements, and 3) the disclaimer and disclosure obligations that apply to the proposed advertisements. The LLC plans to establish a web application through the website StandLouder.com that will allow users to post and fund proposed advertisements. In its advisory opinion request, StandLouder.com indicates that it will receive a license from content creators to, among other services, facilitate funding, provide technical compliance, and determine the time and placement of the ads. StandLouder.com anticipates that the advertisements will relate to topics including political and social issues as well as candidates for federal office.

Advisory Opinions and Requests are available through the Advisory Opinions search page in the Law and Regulations section of the Commission website.

ENFORCEMENT

The Commission made public two closed cases.

MUR 6417
RESPONDENTS:  Jim Huffman for Senate and Lisa Lisker, in her official capacity as treasurer; James Huffman; and Leslie Spencer
COMPLAINANT:  Democratic Party of Oregon
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that Jim Huffman for Senate and Lisker, in her official capacity as treasurer, (the Committee) and Huffman reported the receipt of six loans from Huffman’s personal funds that were not from his personal funds because, based on Huffman’s personal financial disclosure statement, Huffman did not have sufficient personal funds to make the loans. As a result, the complaint alleged that the Committee accepted, and the source of the funds made, an excessive contribution. Huffman was a 2010 candidate for Oregon’s U.S. Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe Spencer, Huffman's spouse,  made and the Committee and Huffman accepted excessive contributions. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement whereby the Committee, Huffman and Spencer agreed to pay a civil penalty of $29,900.

MUR 6453
RESPONDENTS:  Missouri Association of Realtors, Missouri Association of Realtors Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee
COMPLAINANT:  Paul N. Sidio
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that the Missouri Association of Realtors (MAR), a 501(c)(6) trade association, used its trade association dues assessments to fund its separate segregated fund, the Issues Mobilization Political Action Committee (IMPAC).
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe MAR or IMPAC violated the Act because while MAR may have collected money to fund IMPAC, IMPAC is not a federal political committee and these funds did not appear to be “contributions” as defined by the Act because they do not appear to have been used for the purpose of influencing a federal election.

For information regarding the above matters, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

LITIGATION

Tisdale v. Obama, et al. (No. 12-cv-00036 (JAG)). On January 23, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued an order dismissing this case with prejudice, holding that the plaintiff had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court rejected the plaintiff's claim that the "natural born citizen" requirement in Article II of the Constitution requires both parents of a candidate for President to be U.S. citizens at the time of the candidate's birth. On January 24, the plaintiff filed a notice of appeal.

Vroom v. FEC (No. 12-cv-0143 (RMC)). On January 27, 2012, Peter Vroom filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The plaintiff asks the court to review the Commission’s decision to dismiss an administrative complaint plaintiff previously filed with the Commission.

Wagner v. FEC (No. 11-cv-1841 (JEB)). On January 31, the plaintiffs filed an Amended Complaint and a Motion for Preliminary Injunction in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the portion of 2 U.S.C. 441c that bars contributions by individuals who have contracts with the federal government.

OUTREACH

On February 2, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub discussed agency operations, campaign finance regulations, and the Commission’s enforcement authority with government leaders and other representatives from Africa as part of the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Approves Two Advisory Opinions, Discusses Third (issued February 2)

Roemer First Presidential Candidate Declared Eligible for Primary Matching Funds in 2012 Race (issued February 3)

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS

January 31: Year-end Reports were due. For more information on reporting dates, refer to the Reporting page of the Commission website.

UPCOMING EVENTS

The Commission will host a series of informal public forums on February 8, 15, and 29 to discuss agency operations in the areas of compliance, disclosure, enforcement and policy. For details including information on participation and how to submit written comments, please see Chair Caroline C. Hunter’s invitation.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES

February 22-23, Miami, Florida, Regional Conference for Campaigns, Party Committees and Corporate/Labor/Trade PACs. Registration information and schedule are on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

For information regarding additional upcoming conferences and seminars, click here.

UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS

February 7: The Commission is scheduled to hold an Executive Session.

UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES

February 20: February Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2012 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

OTHER RESOURCES

The Record is in the Publications section of the Commission website. Sign up to receive email notification when a new issue of the Record is posted.

The August 2011 updated version of the Commission's Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees is available online. Printed copies of the updated Guide are also available free of charge from the Commission's Information Division. To order, call (800)424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.

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