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Weekly Digests


For Immediate Release
Contact:
Judith Ingram
January 13, 2017   Christian Hilland
    Julia Queen
     
PDF
pdf version of this Weekly Digest   ISSUE 2017-02

Weekly Digest
Week of January 9 – 13


COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS


On January 12, the Commission held an open meeting.

ADVISORY OPINIONS

Advisory Opinion 2016-21 (Great America PAC).  On January 12, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Great America PAC, a non-connected hybrid political committee (the Committee). The requestor asked several questions about the applicability of the former employee conduct standard of the Commission’s coordinated communications regulations to its plan to hire phone bank personnel and door-to-door canvassers who had previously been employed by a candidate or party committee. The Commission concluded that the phone bank communications proposed in the request would be coordinated communications if the employees in question used material information from their prior employment in their work for the Committee or conveyed such information to the Committee, and such information was material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communications. Vice Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Lee E. Goodman and Matthew S. Petersen issued a Concurring Statement.

Advisory Opinion 2016-23 (Socialist Workers Party). In accordance with the requestors’ wishes, on January 12, the Commission held over discussion of a draft in response to a request from the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Workers National Campaign Committee to extend the partial reporting exemption provided in earlier advisory opinions to the Socialist Workers Party. On January 6, the Commission made public Supplemental Material to Advisory Opinion Request 2016-23. On January 9, the Commission received an Extension of Time until March 13, 2017.

ENFORCEMENT

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

MUR 6976
COMPLAINANT: Anthony Thomas, Jr.
RESPONDENTS: Johnny W. Streets, Jr.; Johnny W. Streets, Jr., City Council Committee (Streets Committee); Lofton Island Developments LLLP; Lofton Island GP, LLC; and Lofton Island Holdings, LLLP
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that three entities with addresses in Canada made and Streets and the Streets Committee accepted foreign contributions. Streets was a 2015 candidate for reelection to the City Council of Fort Myers.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 6988
COMPLAINANT: American Democracy Legal Fund
RESPONDENTS: Conservative Solutions Project, Inc. (CSP); Robert Watkins, Treasurer; Pat Shortridge, President/Director; J. Warren Tompkins, Director; and Joel McElhannon, Director
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that CSP disseminated two television advertisements in support of Marco Rubio but failed to report the related costs as independent expenditures to the Commission. Rubio was a 2016 primary candidate for U.S. president.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Commissioners Ann M. Ravel and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7072
COMPLAINANT: Lori Van Hamersveld
RESPONDENTS: Babulal Bera; Kanta Bera; Amerish “Ami” Bera; and Ami Bera for Congress and Jennifer May, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Babulal Bera knowingly and willfully made approximately $270,000 in contributions in the names of about 90 other individuals to the Committee during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. The complaint alleged further that Rep. Ami Bera and the Committee accepted illegal contributions by failing to timely refund the contributions to their original source.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter as to Babulal Bera in view of his guilty plea, sentencing to a year in prison, and other circumstances. The Commission sent a letter admonishing Babalul Bera for his knowing and willful violations of the contribution limits of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and prohibition on making contributions in the name of another. The Commission also exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter as to Kanta Bera in view of the lack of information directly suggesting that she helped or assisted Babulal Bera to make contributions in the name of another, her advanced age, and Babulal Bera’s guilty plea, prison sentence and criminal fine. Finally, the Commission, exercising its prosecutorial discretion, dismissed the matter as to Rep. Bera and the Committee in view of the lack of information directly suggesting they had knowledge of Babulal Bera’s illegal contributions prior to his guilty plea, the Committee’s disgorgement of $278,726 on the same day as the guilty plea, and the fact that the statute of limitations on most of the activity at issue had run.

LITIGATION

Independence Institute v. FEC (Case 16-743). On January 4, the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, Judicial Watch, Inc. and Allied Educational Foundation, and Randy Elf filed Amicus Curiae Briefs in Support of Appellant in the United States Supreme Court. On January 9, Philanthropy Roundtable, the State Policy Network and 24 State Public Policy Groups, and the Institute for Justice and the Cato Institute filed Amicus Curiae Briefs in Support of Appellant.  On the same day, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell filed a Brief Amicus Curiae in Support of Probable Jurisdiction.  Also, on the same day, the Office of the Solicitor General, on behalf of the Commission, filed a Motion to Dismiss or Affirm.

Republican Party of Louisiana, et al. v. FEC (Case 16-865). On January 6, the Appellants filed a Jurisdictional Statement in the United States Supreme Court.

PUBLIC DISCLOSURE

On January 13, the Commission issued the Statistical Summary of 21-Month Campaign Activity of the 2015-2016 Election Cycle.

OUTREACH

On January 10, Press Officer Judith Ingram discussed the role of the Commission with Washington Center university students.

On January 11, Communications Specialist Zainab Smith discussed the role and work of the Commission with a Near East and North African delegation visiting the U.S. as part of the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program.

RULEMAKING AND AGENCY PROCEDURES

Revised Proposal to Launch Rulemaking to Ensure that U.S. Political Spending Is Free From Foreign Influence. On January 12, the Commission considered but was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative voteson a revised proposal to initiate a rulemaking examining the role of foreign political spending in U.S. elections following the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Commissioner Weintraub issued a Statement. Vice Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Matthew S. Petersen and Lee E. Goodman released a Statement.

Statement of Policy: Application of the Foreign National Prohibition to Domestic Corporations Owned or Controlled by Foreign Nationals and Safe Harbor for Knowledge Standard. Commissioner Goodman moved that the Commission consider a draft Statement of Policy, distributed during the meeting, addressing the foreign national prohibition. The Commission was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative votes to consider the Statement of Policy.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Issues Advisory Opinion (issued January 12)

Federal Election Commission Certifies Federal Matching Funds for Stein (issued January 13)

 
UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS

January 24:  The Commission is scheduled to hold an executive session.

January 25: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

February 1:  The Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on REG 2011-02: Internet Communication Disclaimers.

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

JOIN THE FEC ON TWITTER AND YOUTUBE IN 2017

Follow @FEC on Twitter to receive the latest information on agency updates, news releases, and weekly activity. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, FECTube: FECConnect on Demand, to watch instructional videos that have been designed to help candidates and committees comply with federal campaign finance laws. Note that the FEC is not currently available through other social media platforms at this time. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other mediums has not been authorized by the FEC.

UPCOMING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

January 18, 2017: Webinar on Year-End Reporting for PACs and Party Committees. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

January 18, 2017: Webinar on FECFile for PACs and Party Committees. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

January 25, 2017: Webinar on Year-End Reporting for Candidate Committees. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

January 25, 2017: Webinar on FECFile for Candidate Committees. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES

January 31, 2017: Year-End Reports are due. For information on reporting dates, refer to the 2017 Reporting Dates page of the Commission website.

DISCLOSURE INITIATIVES

Commission staff, together with our partners at 18F, continue to add new features to the agency's beta.fec.gov website. The Commission encourages website visitors to submit comments and questions by clicking on the “Feedback” tab at the bottom of each page.

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.

The latest 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 Commission has published the January Record newsletter. Sign up to receive email notification when new Record articles are posted.

The latest edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations can be downloaded from the website.  To order printed copies, call (800) 424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.



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