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FEC v. Rodriguez


On October 28, 1988, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida granted the FEC's motion for a default judgment in a case that the FEC had reopened against Cesar Rodriguez in June 1988 (Civil Action No. 86-687-CIV-T-10).

In 1994, Mr. Rodriguez was held in contempt for failing to pay a $5,000 penalty imposed by the court.


In its original complaint against Mr. Rodriguez, filed in November 1986, the FEC asked the district court to declare that, during 1980, Cesar Rodriguez had violated §441f of the election law by accepting contributions for the Carter/Mondale Presidential Committee which were made by one person in the names of other persons. Specifically, on behalf of Alan Wolfson, Mr. Rodriguez had solicited contributions to the Carter/Mondale Presidential Committee and had subsequently reimbursed each contributor for his or her contribution.

District court action

The Florida district court, on May 5, 1987, denied the Commission's motion for summary judgment. The court held that the defendant had aided and abetted a violation of the first clause of 2 U.S.C. §441f ("No person shall make a contribution in the name of another...") rather than the last clause of §441f, as the Commission had alleged ("No person shall knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another..."). Based on this finding, the court directed the Commission to address the question of whether the agency "can effectively amend the complaint and go forward with this case, or whether it must begin again under the governing statute at the administrative level."

On May 20, 1987, the FEC notified the court that it had decided to reopen its own administrative proceedings in the case. Based on these proceedings, the Commission subsequently found probable cause to believe that Mr. Rodriguez had violated the election law by assisting in the making of contributions in the name of another. Failing to reach conciliation with the defendant, the Commission on March 15, 1988, again initiated a civil suit against Mr. Rodriguez.

Rather than bringing a new complaint against Mr. Rodriguez for this violation, however, the FEC decided to ask the court to:

  • Reopen the file on the FEC's original complaint; and
  • Accept an amended complaint reflecting the agency's new findings.

In its October 1988 default judgment, the court decreed that:

  • Mr. Rodriguez violated 2 U.S.C. §441f by knowingly assisting in the making of contributions in the name of another.
  • Mr. Rodriguez was required to pay, within 15 days of the court's entry of the judgment, a $5,000 civil penalty, together with $22.95, to cover costs incurred by the FEC in the suit.

Finally, the court enjoined Mr. Rodriguez from future, similar violations of the election law.

Contempt ruling

Four years later, in November 1992, the penalty remained unpaid. At a December 1992 contempt hearing, the FEC and the defendant told the judge that they had reached a tentative settlement under which Mr. Rodriguez was to pay $300 per month while the FEC looked into his financial position. But he later refused to make the payments or to provide information on his finances.

In February 1994, the FEC again requested that the court hold Mr. Rodriguez in contempt. In granting that request on March 31, 1994, the court ordered him to pay the $5,000 penalty, plus interest, and $100 per day until the penalty is repaid. The court also ordered him to reimburse the FEC for its costs in the contempt proceeding.

Source: FEC Record— June 1994; January 1989; and August 1988. FEC v. Rodriguez, No. 86-687-CIV-T10 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 12, 1986).