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  • FEC Record: Commission

Commission streamlines initial stage of enforcement proceedings

March 20, 2024

On March 14, 2024, the Commission approved a Statement of Policy that simplifies its processing of Matters Under Review (MURs) at the initial stage of enforcement proceedings.


Under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act), when the Commission receives a complaint or uncovers information suggesting a possible violation, it must investigate if a majority of Commissioners determines there is “reason to believe that a person has committed, or is about to commit” a violation of the Act. If not, the Commission may vote to dismiss a complaint. In public guidance and agency practice, however, the Commission has adopted at least seven possible options to resolve MURs. Although the Commission adopted these additional options with the intent of making the Commission’s actions more understandable to the public, they have instead fostered confusion and imposed unnecessary administrative costs. Accordingly, under this new policy, the Commission will generally either find “reason to believe” or dismiss a MUR at the initial stage in the enforcement process.

“Reason to Believe”

The Commission will find “reason to believe” when the available evidence in the MUR is at least sufficient to warrant an investigation, and where the seriousness of the alleged violation warrants either further investigation or immediate conciliation. A “reason to believe” finding will always be followed by either an investigation or pre-probable cause conciliation. A “reason to believe” finding by itself does not establish that the law has been violated. When the Commission later accepts a conciliation agreement with a respondent, the conciliation agreement speaks to the Commission’s conclusions. When the Commission does not enter into a conciliation agreement and does not file suit, a Statement of Reasons, a Factual and Legal Analysis, or a General Counsel’s Report may provide further explanation of the Commission’s conclusions.

“Vote to Dismiss”

The Commission may vote to dismiss a MUR for a variety of reasons. It may vote to dismiss MURs as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion when the MUR does not merit additional expenditure of Commission resources or when the available information fails to give rise to a reasonable inference that a violation has occurred. When the Commission votes to dismiss, a Statement of Reasons, a Factual and Legal Analysis, or a General Counsel’s Report may provide further explanation of the Commission’s conclusions.

The Statement of Policy was published in the Federal Register on March 20, 2024, and will be effective on April 19, 2024.


  • Author 
    • Paul Stoetzer
    • Sr. Communications Specialist