On January 13, 2014, the Commission approved final rules to extend through 2018 the agency’s Administrative Fines Program (AFP) for late filing and failure to file FEC reports. The rules implement legislation enacted on December 26, 2013, that gave the Commission authority to extend the program and to expand it to cover certain reports not previously subject to administrative fines. The Commission plans to address the possible expansion in a future rulemaking.
Initially authorized on a trial basis by 1999 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act, the AFP enables the Commission to assess civil money penalties for political committees that fail to file their regular financial reports on time or at all, and for campaign committees that fail to file 48-hour notices of large last-minute contributions received. 2 U.S.C. §437g(a)(4)(C); 11 CFR 111.30 to 111.46. Congress has extended the program several times over the years, with the current extension covering reports that disclose activity through December 31, 2018. The Commission’s revised rules implement this extension and also, for the first time, permit payment of administrative fines by methods other than check or money order. See 79 Fed. Reg. 3302 (January 21, 2014).
Though not included in this rulemaking, the recent legislation also authorized the Commission to expand the scope of the AFP to include the following categories of reporting violations:
- Independent expenditure reports filed by individuals and other entities using FEC Form 5 (2 U.S.C. § 434(c));
- Certain federal election activity reports filed by state and local parties using FEC Form 3X (2 U.S.C. § 434(e));
- Electioneering communications reports filed by individuals and other entities using FEC Form 9 (2 U.S.C. § 434(f));
- 24- and 48-Hour reports of independent expenditures filed by political committees (using Schedule E of FEC Form 3X), and individuals, corporations, unions and other entities (using FEC Form 5) (2 U.S.C. § 434(g));
- Bundling reports filed by campaigns, party committees and leadership PACs using FEC Form 3L (2 U.S.C. § 434(i)); and
- Convention reports filed by convention and host committees in regard to national party conventions (2 U.S.C. § 437).
The Commission intends to address any possible expansion of the AFP to these reporting requirements through a separate rulemaking.
(Posted 1/23/2014; By: Dorothy Yeager)