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Weekly Digest

 

For Immediate Release

Contact

Judith Ingram

May 11, 2012

Julia Queen
  Christian Hilland
   
 

ISSUE 2012-19

Weekly Digest

Week of May 7 – 11

COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS

On May 8, the Commission held an Executive Session. Click here for Sunshine Act Notices for Executive Sessions.

On May 10, 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 2012-11 (Free Speech). Free Speech is an unincorporated nonprofit association that plans to finance certain advertisements and ask for donations to fund its activities. On May 10, the Commission concluded that two of Free Speech's 11 proposed ads would expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified Federal candidate, four of the proposed ads would not be express advocacy ads, and two of the four proposed donation requests would not be solicitations under the Act. The Commission could not approve a response by the required four affirmative votes about the remaining ads or donation requests, or about Free Speech's status as a political committee. Statements were issued by Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Donald F. McGahn and Matthew S. Petersen, and by Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub and Commissioners Cynthia L. Bauerly and Steven T. Walther.

AO 2012-16 (King; Pierce Atwood LLP). On May 10, the Commission concluded that Pierce Atwood LLP (the Firm), a limited liability partnership, may provide pro bono legal services to the Angus King for U.S. Senate Campaign (the Committee) pertaining to compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act) and Commission regulations, even though the Firm is a federal contractor. The Commission further concluded that the Firm’s partners, associates, and other employees, individually, may volunteer time in the form of legal or other services to the Committee in accordance with a letter of agreement without the Firm inadvertently providing the Committee a prohibited in-kind contribution. The letter of agreement, in part, addresses the conditions under which the Firm’s partners, associates, and other employees, individually and independently, may volunteer their time to the Committee. 

Advisory Opinions Considered

AOR 2012-07 (Feinstein for Senate). On May 10, the Commission discussed and voted on two draft advisory opinions, based on a request from Feinstein for Senate, but did not reach consensus. The Committee asked the Commission whether the donors who attempted to contribute to the Committee, but whose funds were embezzled by its treasurer Kinde Durkee, may make replacement contributions to the Committee without the attempted contributions counting against the donors' per election limits. The Commission directed the Office of General Counsel to prepare and circulate a revised draft advisory opinion reflecting areas of consensus for a future Commission vote. During the discussion, the Commission heard from counsel on behalf of Feinstein for Senate.

AOR 2012-08 (Repledge). On May 10, the Commission discussed and voted on two draft advisory opinions, based on a request from Repledge, but did not reach consensus on either draft. Repledge asked a number of questions relating to its proposed plan to establish a web-based platform allowing supporters of opposing federal candidates to redirect potential contributions to charitable organizations,  including whether Repledge would (1) receive contributions, (2) have the major purpose of influencing a federal election, and (3) violate the prohibition on corporate contributions to candidates.During the discussion, the Commission heard from the requestor.

Comments

AOR 2012-17 (Red Blue T LLC, ArmourMedia, Inc., and m-Qube, Inc.). On May 9, the Commission received a comment on Advisory Opinion Request 2012-17 (Red Blue T LLC, ArmourMedia, Inc., and m-Qube, Inc.). The requestors ask whether their proposal to use mobile phone text messaging to raise funds for political committees is permissible under the Act and Commission regulations.

AOR 2012-19 (American Future Fund). On May 10, the Commission made public a comment on Advisory Opinion Request 2012-19 (American Future Fund). American Future Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that intends to produce and distribute certain broadcast advertisements. It asks whether any of its proposed advertisements constitute electioneering communications.

Requests Received

AOR 2012-20 (Mullin). On May 7, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2012-20. The requestor is a candidate for Congress from Oklahoma, and also the President and CEO of Mullin Plumbing, Inc. and Mullin Plumbing West Division, Inc. (the companies).  Markwayne Mullin has appeared in television and radio commercials and a weekly radio program for the companies for years. Mullin asks whether his appearance in the commercials and the radio program are electioneering communications and, if so, whether, when he files reports for the companies, he would be required to disclose the names and addresses of customers who paid $1,000 or more for services. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than May 17, 2012) and must issue a response no later than 20 days after receipt of the complete request, specifically by May 24, 2012.

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. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6489
RESPONDENTS: Arkansas House Leadership PAC
COMPLAINANT:  Steve Womack for Congress and Mike Eldredge, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that the Arkansas House Leadership PAC (AHLPAC) used Rep. Womack’s name on a fundraiser invitation without the approval of Steve Womack for Congress and Eldredge, in his official capacity as treasurer.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that AHLPAC had fraudulently represented itself as speaking on behalf of Rep. Womack because the identification of Rep. Womack as a fundraiser co-host on an invitation sent by AHLPAC appears to have been a mistake rather than a fraudulent scheme to raise donations.

MUR 6517
RESPONDENTS: Gary Kenneth King; and King for Congress (Terminated)
COMPLAINANT:  Bruce Malott
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that King and King for Congress (the Committee) (1) continued to file reports with the Commission, using Malott’s electronic signature as Committee treasurer, even though Malott had orally notified King of his resignation, (2) failed to file an amended Statement of Organization naming a new treasurer and (3) made campaign expenditures while the treasurer position was vacant.
DISPOSITION:  The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in light of the fact that the King for Congress was terminated and thus is no longer an existing reporting entity under the Act.

AUDITS

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on The Legacy Committee Political Action Committee. On May 10, the Commission discussed and then held over the Audit Division’s recommendation memorandum on The Legacy Committee Political Action Committee, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008. The Audit Division memorandum recommends that the Commission approve the findings presented in the Draft Final Audit Report related to (1) misstatement of financial activity and (2) failure to file notices and properly disclose independent expenditures.

LITIGATION

Herron for Congress v. FEC (No. 11-cv-01466 (EGS)). On May 4, the Commission filed a Motion for Summary Judgment and an Opposition to the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Libertarian National Committee, Inc. (LNC) v. Federal Election Commission (No. 11-cv-562 (RLW)). On May 4, the Commission filed its Proposed Findings of Fact in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Also on May 4, the plaintiff filed a Motion to Certify Facts and Questions to the Court of Appeals.

RULEMAKING AND AGENCY PROCEDURES

Revised Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents on the FEC Enforcement Process. On May 10, the Commission approved a revised Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents on the FEC Enforcement Process and directed that it be placed on the Commission’s website. The Guidebook summarizes the Commission's general enforcement policies and procedures and offers additional guidance concerning the enforcement process. This revised document adds descriptions of and links to the policies, procedures, and directives relevant to the enforcement process that the Commission has approved since the original publication of the Guidebook in December 2009

LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS

2012 Legislative Recommendations. On May 10, the Commission unanimously approvedfive legislative recommendations for 2012to be submitted for consideration to Congress: (1) to require electronic filing for Senate candidates; (2) to make permanent the Administrative Fine program, which gives authority to the Commission to assess administrative fines for committees that fail to timely report receipts and disbursements in a timely manner; (3) to expand the prohibitions on fraudulent misrepresentation of campaign authority; (4) to extend the personal use restrictions to all political committees; and (5) to delete the exclusion of the Commission from eligibility for the Senior Executive Service.

OUTREACH

On May 7, Communications Specialist Zainab Smith discussed recent campaign finance litigation with visitors from the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Milwaukee.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Acts on Two Advisory Opinions, Approves Revised Enforcement Process Guidebook and
Legislative Recommendations
(issued May 10)

UPCOMING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

May 23, Washington, DC. Seminar/Webinar for Trade Associations, Labor Organizations, Membership Organizations and their PACs. Registration information and the schedule are on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.  

UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES

May 20: May 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 2012 edition of the Combined Federal State Disclosure and Election Directory is available in the Public Records section of the Commission website. This publication identifies the federal and state agencies responsible for the disclosure of campaign finances, lobbying, personal finances, public financing, candidates on the ballot, election results, spending on state initiatives and other financial filings.

The Record news page is available in the Publications section of the Commission website. Sign up to receive email notification when new articles are posted.

Printed copies of the 2012 edition of 11 CFR are now available. To order, call (800)424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.

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