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FEC v. National Congressional Club


On May 15, 1986, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina issued a consent order agreed to by the Federal Election Commission and three defendants: the National Congressional Club (NCC), a multicandidate political committee; NCC's treasurer, R.E. Carter Wrenn; and Jefferson Marketing, Inc. (JMI), a North Carolina corporation that provides media services to political committees. Plaintiff and defendants agreed that:

  • Since NCC and JMI had operated as a single entity,[1] NCC and its treasurer, R.E. Carter Wrenn, had violated section 434 of the election law by failing to report JMI's financial activity; and
  • Within 30 days of the court's order, defendants would pay a $10,000 civil penalty to the U.S. Treasury for these violations.

Furthermore, defendants no longer contested the FEC's allegation that JMI had violated section 441b of the election law by charging less than the fair market value for services JMI had provided to federal candidates.

In the order, defendants also agreed to establish themselves as separate entities, despite their contention that they had already done so in 1983. In this regard, the following changes would be made:

  • Thomas Ellis and R.E. Carter Wrenn would resign as directors of the Educational Support Foundation, Inc., JMI's sole shareholder;
  • JMI would liquidate its outstanding debt to NCC within 12 months of the date of the consent order;
  • Employees who began working for NCC after the date of the consent order, and who were later employed by JMI, would not be credited with benefits and seniority accrued during their employment by NCC; and
  • As long as he remained an NCC officer, R.E. Carter Wrenn would not act as JMI's director, officer or employee.

After NCC and JMI have made these changes, they will be considered separate entities. However, the FEC reserved the right to file suits and claims against JMI if JMI fails to charge the fair market value for services the organization provides to federal political committees and candidates.

Within 90 days of the consent order, NCC agreed to amend its FEC reports to disclose JMI's financial activity with regard to federal elections during the period from December 1978 to the present.

The suit grew out of an administrative complaint filed by Congressman Charles Rose. In that case, the Commission found probable cause to believe respondents had violated the law; yet, it failed to resolve the matter through conciliation. Thus, on February 7, 1985, the agency filed suit.


[1] Evidence noted in the consent order for defendants' operation as a single entity included: JMI's financial dependence on NCC, NCC's control over JMI's voting stock and Mr. Wrenn's involvement in JMI's decision-making process.

Source:   FEC RecordJuly 1986