On March 30, 2015, the Commission published a Notice of Availability seeking public comments on a rulemaking petition that asks the Commission to expand its Administrative Fine Program (AFP) and revise and update its reporting forms and instructions. The petition was filed by Robert F. Bauer, Allen Dickerson, Benjamin L. Ginsberg, former Commissioner Donald F. McGahn II, Laurence E. Gold, former Commissioner Robert D. Lenhard and former Commissioner Bradley A. Smith (collectively, the “petitioners”).
Under the AFP, the Commission currently imposes civil monetary penalties on political committees for late or non-filing of certain financial reports as required by 52 U.S.C. § 30104(a). See 11 CFR 111.30; see also 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(4)(C). In December 2013, legislation was enacted that authorized the Commission to expand the scope of the AFP to include reporting violations for several other types of reports filed with the Commission that currently are not subject to the AFP. See Pub. L. No. 113-72, 127 Stat. 1210 (2013). The Petitioners ask the Commission to conduct a rulemaking to expand the scope of the AFP to the additional categories of reporting violations noted in the new legislation. (For more information on the legislation authorizing the expansion of the AFP, see this Record article.)
The petition also asks that the Commission revise several forms and their instructions. Specifically, the petitioners urge the agency to revise its forms and instructions to “reflect the existence of independent-expenditure only committees” (a.k.a., Super PACs) and “Carey funds” (a.k.a., Hybrid PACs) and “to recognize that corporations and labor organizations may make contributions to IE PACs.” The petitioners ask the Commission to make clear that political committees “need only engage in best efforts to reasonably ascertain the value of expenditures subject to 24- and 48-hour reports.” Additionally, the petitioners propose that the agency redesign FEC Form 3X for use by nonconnected committees and separate segregated funds alone and create a new reporting form for use by political party committees. Finally, the petitioners suggest adding a separate page to Form 3X for reporting in-kind contributions.
Public comments on the petition are due by May 29, 2015.