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  • Press Release

FEC issues advisory opinion

January 12, 2017

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission today issued an advisory opinion and discussed a proposal to initiate a rulemaking and a draft Statement of Policy involving the role of foreign money in U.S. elections.

At the first open meeting of 2017, Chairman Steven T. Walther expressed hope for a “healthy and enriching year for everyone.”

“I am pleased and honored to serve as Chairman of the Commission this year and I pledge to do my best to ensure that the Commission continues to fulfill its crucial mission of protecting the integrity of our federal campaign finance system, and particularly in providing the public with campaign finance information in the quickest and most accessible and complete manner as possible, as well as fairly and equitably enforcing the federal campaign finance laws under the Commission’s jurisdiction,” Chairman Walther said.

Advisory Opinion Request 2016-21 (Great America PAC)

The Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Great America PAC, a non-connected hybrid political committee (the Committee). The requestor asked several questions about the applicability of the former employee conduct standard of the Commission’s coordinated communications regulations to its plan to hire phone bank personnel and door-to-door canvassers who had previously been employed by a candidate or party committee. The Commission concluded that the phone bank communications proposed in the request would be coordinated communications if the employees in question used material information from their prior employment in their work for the Committee or conveyed such information to the Committee, and such information was material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communications.

Advisory Opinion Request 2016-23 (Socialist Workers Party)

In accordance with the requestors’ wishes, the Commission held over discussion of a draft in response to a request from the Socialist Workers Party and Socialist Workers National Campaign Committee to extend the partial reporting exemption provided in earlier advisory opinions to the Socialist Workers Party.

Revised proposal to launch rulemaking to ensure that U.S. political spending is free from foreign influence 

The Commission considered but was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative votes on a revised proposal to initiate a rulemaking examining the role of foreign political spending in U.S. elections following the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC. Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement (link).

Statement of policy

Application of the Foreign National Prohibition to Domestic Corporations Owned or Controlled by Foreign Nationals and Safe Harbor for Knowledge Standard (link). The Commission considered but was unable to reach agreement by the required four affirmative votes on a draft Statement of Policy concerning the foreign national prohibition. Vice Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Matthew S. Petersen and Lee E. Goodman issued a Statement (link).

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.