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Weekly Digests


For Immediate Release
Contact:
Judith Ingram
December 18, 2015   Christian Hilland
    Julia Queen
     
PDF
.pdf version of this Weekly Digest   ISSUE 2015-51
     

Weekly Digest
Week of December 14 – 18


COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS

On December 15, the Commission held an executive session.

On December 17, the Commission held an open meeting and an executive session.

2016 OFFICERS AND CALENDAR

On December 17, the Commission elected Matthew S. Petersen as Chairman and Steven T. Walther as Vice Chairman for 2016. The Commission also approved an initial schedule of meeting dates for the first six months of 2016.

ADVISORY OPINIONS

Advisory Opinions Considered and Extensions of Time Received

Advisory Opinion 2015-13 (Reid). On December 17, the Commission discussed two draft advisory opinions in response to a request from Senator Harry Reid, but held over a vote on the matter.  Senator Reid asks whether he may use campaign funds to pay the costs of an assistant after his retirement and whether his leadership PAC may, after Senator Reid retires, pay the winding down costs of his Senate office. On December 17, the Commission received an Extension of Time until January 25, 2016 on Advisory Opinion Request 2015-13.

Advisory Opinion 2015-14 (Hillary for America II). On December 17, the Commission discussed two draft advisory opinions in response to a request from Hillary for America, but held over a vote on the matter. Hillary for America asks whether a student interning with the campaign may accept a stipend and academic credit from her university under an exception to the general prohibition on corporate contributions to campaigns. On December 17, the Commission received an Extension of Time until January 25, 2016 on Advisory Opinion Request 2015-14.

Request Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2015-16 (Niger Innis for Congress). On December 15, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2015-16, submitted by Niger Innis for Congress, a principal campaign committee that is winding down. The requestor asks whether it may pay certain costs associated with general election contributions from general election funds, rather than primary election funds, and whether it may donate general election contributions to a charity, rather than disgorge the funds to the U.S. Treasury. The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after receipt of the complete request, that is, by February 16, 2016.

ENFORCEMENT

The Commission made public two closed cases and a Statement of Reasons, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6535
COMPLAINANT: J. Gerald Hebert, Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENT: Restore Our Future and Charles R. Spies in his official capacity as treasurer; and Romney for President, Inc. and Darrell Crate, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that independent expenditure-only political committee Restore Our Future and Spies, in his official capacity as treasurer (ROF), made and Romney for President, Inc. and Crate, in his official capacity as treasurer (Romney for President), accepted  a prohibited in-kind contribution when ROF financed the republication of a television advertisement prepared by Romney, his campaign committees or authorized agents. The complaint alleged further that ROF failed to report the contributions when it republished Romney for President campaign materials. Mitt Romney was a 2012 candidate for U.S. President.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe ROF made excessive in-kind contributions to Romney for President by republishing campaign materials prepared by Romney for President and failed to report the expenditures as contributions to Romney for President. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for ROF to pay a civil penalty of $50,000. The Commission found no reason to believe Romney for President accepted excessive or prohibited in-kind contributions from ROF because there was nothing in the record showing that the communication at issue was coordinated with the Romney campaign. Chair Ravel and Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 6810
COMPLAINANT: Chad Lee Choat
RESPONDENTS: Michael Jeffrey Turner; Mike Turner for Congress and Kyle Walton Denham, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Turner and Mike Turner for Congress and Denham, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee), failed to file a Statement of Organization in a timely manner and failed to file a 2014 April Quarterly Report.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter. The Commission observed that the Committee claimed that its failure to file the Statement of Organization was due to a clerical effort and that it made an effort to correct the error as soon as it was discovered. The Commission also noted that the Committee apparently made an attempt to timely file its 2014 April Quarterly Report by mailing it to the Commission via First Class Mail on April 15, 2014.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

The Commission made public one campaign finance enforcement matter that was resolved through its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

ADR 767 – Joe Carr for Senate and Nate Schott, in his official capacity as treasurer.  The respondent agreed to (1) pay a civil penalty of $2,250, and (2) certify the closure of the Committee’s federal account and work with Commission staff to terminate their political committee status and reporting obligations with the Commission. The Committee will continue reporting until such time as the termination is approved.

LITIGATION

Center for Competitive Politics v. FEC (Case 1:14-cv-00970-RDM). On December 16, the Commission filed a Stipulation of Dismissal in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Miller v. FEC (formerly Wagner, et al. v. FEC) (Case 15-428 ). On December 16, the Solicitor General filed a Brief for the Respondent in Opposition to the Petition for a Writ of Certiorari with the United States Supreme Court.

Pursuing America's Greatness v. FEC (Case 15-5264). On December 16, the Appellants filed an Opening Brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Stop Hillary PAC v. FEC (Case 1:15-cv-01208-GBL-IDD). On December 16, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia issued an Order.

REGULATIONS AND AGENCY OPERATIONS

Motion to Open a Rulemaking in REG 2015-04 on Independent Spending by Corporations, Labor Organizations, Foreign Nationals, and Certain Political Committees (Citizens United). On December 17, the Commission was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative votes on a Motion to Open a Rulemaking in REG 2015-04, which called for the Office of General Counsel to draft a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revise Commission regulations in connection with independent spending.

Rulemaking Priorities and Proposals. On December 17, the Commission discussed a Memorandum on Regulatory Relief for Political Parties, a revised Memorandum on Regulatory Relief for Political Parties, an Outline of a Draft NPRM Implementing Party Segregated Accounts, a Draft NPRM on Technological Modernization and a Coordination Rulemaking Proposal. The Commission held over the Draft NPRM on Technological Modernization to the next open meeting and referred the Outline of a Draft NPRM Implementing Party Segregated Accounts back to the Regulations Committee. The Commission was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative votes on the Coordination Rulemaking Proposal.

Commission Documents/Public Disclosure Policies. On December 17, the Commission held over discussion of a Proposed Statement of Policy Regarding the Public Disclosure of Closed Enforcement Files, a Memorandum on Disclosing Additional Categories of Documents to the Public Record at the Close of an Enforcement Matter, and a Memorandum on Additional Documents Appropriate for Release.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Draft Interpretive Rule on Reporting Multistate Independent Expenditures in Presidential Primary Elections. On December 17, the Commission was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative votes on a draft interpretive rule on reporting independent expenditures for presidential primaries that are distributed nationwide.  The Commission also considered a draft NPRM on the reporting of independent expenditures and electioneering communications that relate to presidential primary elections and are publicly distributed in multiple states but do not refer to any particular state’s primary election.

LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS

2015 Legislative Recommendations. On December 16, the Commission unanimously approved on a tally vote seven legislative recommendations for 2015 to be submitted for consideration to Congress: (1) Electronic Filing of Senate Reports; (2) Electronic Filing of Electioneering Communication Reports; (3) Authority to Create Senior Executive Service Positions; (4) Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Campaign Authority; (5) Making Permanent the Administrative Fine Program for Reporting Violations; (6) Increase and Index for Inflation Registration and Reporting Thresholds; and (7) Authority to Accept Gifts.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS

The Commission posted additional 2016 information for all types of filers.  For detailed information, refer to the "Looking Ahead" section on our Reporting Dates page.

COMMISSIONERS’ STATEMENTS

On December 17, Chair Ravel delivered remarks at the final open meeting of 2015.

DISCLOSURE INITIATIVES

On December 17, a new feature allowing users to view campaign finance data by two-, four- and six-year cycles was added to the Commission’s beta.fec.gov website. The Commission encourages betaFEC website visitors to submit comments and questions by clicking on the "Feedback" tab at the bottom of each page.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Elects Matthew Petersen as Chairman for 2016; Steven Walther to Serve as Vice Chairman (issued December 17)

FEC Considers Advisory Opinions, Discusses Rulemaking Proposals; Elects Chairman and Vice Chairman (issued December 18)

UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS

January 14, 2016: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting and an executive session.

January 26, 2016: The Commission is scheduled to hold an executive session.

January 28, 2016: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting and an executive session.

Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.

UPCOMING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

January 13, 2016:  Webinars for PACs and Party Committees on Year-End Reporting and FECFile. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

January 20, 2016:  Webinars for Candidate Committees on Year-End Reporting and FECFile. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES

December 20: December Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2015 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

January 31, 2016: Year-End Reports are due. For information on general election reporting dates, refer to the 2015 Reporting Dates page of the Commission website.

ADDITIONAL RESEARCH MATERIALS

Additional research materials about the agency, campaign finance information and election results are available through the Library section of the Commission website.

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