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  • Press Release

FEC approves three advisory opinions, discusses rulemaking

June 18, 2020

WASHINGTON – At its open meeting today, the Federal Election Commission elected officers for the remainder of 2020, approved three advisory opinions, and discussed a rulemaking on transfers of excess campaign funds from a federal candidate’s authorized committee to a political party committee. The Commission met by teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has closed the FEC’s offices to visitors and put most staff members on telework status. Today’s meeting was the first at which Commissioner James E. “Trey” Trainor III participated, following his swearing in earlier this month as a member of the Commission.

Election of Officers The Commission elected Commissioner Trainor to serve as Chair and Commissioner Steven T. Walther to serve as Vice Chair for the remainder of 2020.

Advisory Opinion 2019-15 (NORPAC) The Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from NORPAC, a nonconnected political action committee, regarding a proposal for NORPAC to deduct a percentage from earmarked contributions that it forwards to candidate committees in order to reimburse its own solicitation and administrative costs. The Commission concluded that NORPAC may deduct the fee as proposed and that the entirety of the fee would constitute a contribution from the contributor to NORPAC. During the discussion, the Commission heard from the committee treasurer.

Advisory Opinion 2019-16 (Shemanski) The Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Phillip Shemanski, regarding whether he may use a candidate’s initials in the name under which he registers an unauthorized political committee with the Commission. The Commission concluded that the committee may include the candidate’s initials in its registered name because the initials do not constitute the “name” of a candidate under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act).

Advisory Opinion 2019-18 (IDF International Technologies, Inc.) The Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from IDF International Technologies, Inc., regarding IDF’s activities operating and advertising for an online political discussion forum. The Commission concluded that IDF’s activities are not expenditures, contributions, or electioneering communications under the Act and Commission regulations, and do not obligate IDF to submit any reports to the Commission or to include disclaimers in its advertising.

Draft Notification of Availability for REG 2020-02 (Transfers from Candidate’s Authorized Committee) The Commission approved a Notification of Availability regarding a Petition for Rulemaking received from Citizens United and Citizens United Foundation, asking the Commission to amend its regulations to limit the amount that the authorized committee of a federal candidate may transfer to a national political party committee. The Petition proposes to limit these transfers so that a self-funded candidate cannot transfer funds derived from the candidate’s personal funds to a national political party committee if the amount of transferred funds would exceed the annual limit on an individual’s contributions to a national party committee. The Notification seeks public comment on the Petition and will be published in the Federal Register at a later date.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.