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FEC discusses report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election, approves advisory opinion, Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum, and interim rule

April 26, 2019

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission held a preliminary discussion of the Special Counsel’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and approved an advisory opinion and an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum at its open meeting yesterday. The Commission also approved an Interim Final Rule regarding Senate filings.

Preliminary discussion of the Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. The Commission discussed potential responses to the Special Counsel’s report, including asking lawyers in the Office of General Counsel to determine whether the report contains information relevant to any ongoing enforcement matters or potential rulemakings or policy statements. Chair Ellen L. Weintraub said she is hoping to convene a forum on this topic and has reached out to the Vice Chairman and asked for his assistance in compiling an appropriate panel of experts who could help advise the Commission. She also said she had been discussing the Commission’s internet communications disclaimers rulemaking with the Vice Chairman and hoped to be able to announce a plan for going forward and wrapping up that rulemaking in fairly short order.

Advisory Opinion 2018-13 (OsiaNetwork LLC) The Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from OsiaNetwork LLC concerning its proposal to provide services to political committees to enable individuals to use their internet-enabled devices to mine cryptocurrencies to benefit those committees. The opinion concluded that the proposal is permissible but does not fall under the internet volunteer services exemption from the definition of contribution, and would result in contributions from the participating individuals but not from OsiaNetwork, which would be acting as a commercial vendor. During the discussion, the Commission heard from counsel for the requestor.

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The Commission approved an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the New Jersey Republican State Committee. The Commission approved findings pertaining to misstatement of financial activity and reporting of debts and obligations. The Audit Division will prepare the Proposed Final Audit Report within 30 days.

Interim Final Rule on Senate Filing. The Commission approved an Interim Final Rule that amends the Commission’s regulations to conform to a statutory change enacted in September 2018 to make the FEC the point of entry for all reports, designations, and notices mandated by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, for all filers. Previously, Senate candidates and certain political committees were required to file such reports, designations, and notices solely with the Secretary of the Senate. The Commission will accept comments on this revision to its regulations for 30 days following its publication in the Federal Register; comments received may be addressed in a subsequent rulemaking document.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-12 (Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc.) The Commission discussed and held over a vote of an advisory opinion request from Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc. (DDC). The request concerns DDC’s proposal to provide or facilitate the provision of certain cybersecurity services, software, and hardware for free or at a reduced cost to federal candidate committees and national party committees on a nonpartisan basis and according to pre-determined, objective criteria.

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.

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