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John C. Cooksey v. FEC


On August 30, 2005, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted the Commission’s motion to dismiss this case. The Court adopted the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, finding that the defendant did not show grounds under the administrative fines regulations to challenge the Commission’s final determination and its civil penalty assessment. 11 CFR 111.35.


On April 29, 2003, the Commission notified the Committee that it believed the Committee had failed to file a 2002 30-Day Post-General report, as required under 2 U.S.C. 434(a). On May 2 the Commission notified the Committee of its reason-to-believe finding that the Committee had violated 2 U.S.C. 434(a) and its initial civil penalty calculation of $9,500.

The Committee challenged the Commission's reason-to-believe finding under the administrative process provided for in Commission regulations. 11 CFR 111.35-111.37. The Commission subsequently reduced the penalty amount to $8,000 after the Committee submitted new information that allowed the Commission to calculate the penalty based on actual data rather than on the estimates used for the initial penalty calculation. On April 22, 2004, the Commission made a final determination that the Committee had violated 2 U.S.C. 434(a) and assessed an $8,000 civil money penalty.

Court complaint

On May 26, 2004, John C. Cooksey and Cooksey for Senate Finance Committee (the Committee) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana. The plaintiffs ask the court to review a civil penalty assessed by the Commission under its administrative fines regulations.

In their complaint the plaintiffs alleged that the penalty is unfounded and/or excessive and is based on a factual error regarding the circumstances of the allegedly untimely report. The plaintiffs further argued that the existence of extraordinary circumstances that lasted for more than 48 hours and were beyond the Committee's control relieves the Committee from the Commission's penalty. See 11 CFR 111.35(b).

The plaintiffs asked the court to reduce and/or waive the $8,000 civil penalty.

Source:   FEC Record— October 2005; and August 2004.