On March 22, 2007, the Commission approved a policy designed to encourage committees and other persons to self-report possible violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act). To encourage self-reporting, the Commission will generally offer penalties between 25 and 75 percent lower than those for matters arising by other means, such as complaints or the Commission's own review of reports. In certain circumstances, the Commission may allow committees who voluntarily report their violations and make a complete report of their internal investigation to proceed directly into conciliation before the Commission determines whether the committee violated the Act or Commission regulations. Additionally, the new policy addresses issues that could arise when self-reported violations are the subject of parallel criminal, administrative or civil proceedings.
Through this policy statement, the Commission seeks to increase the number of self-reported submissions in order to expedite the enforcement process and decrease the number of enforcement matters and subsequent litigation that the Commission must address. The policy statement details the various factors the Commission may consider in deciding how to proceed with self-reported violations. The factors include the nature of the violation, the extent of corrective action and new self-governance measures taken by the respondent and the level of cooperation and disclosure with the Commission once the violation has been reported.
Fine Reduction. Based on its consideration of these factors, the Commission may choose to reduce the amount of the civil money penalty it would otherwise have sought in the enforcement process. The amount of the reduction will depend on the facts and circumstances of a particular case and the Commission will be the sole party deciding whether the facts of the case warrant a reduction in the penalty. A reduction generally will not be available to respondents whose violations already are the subject of a criminal or other government investigation. Additionally, in the reduction determination, the Commission will also consider aggravating factors weighing against a reduction, such as knowing and willful conduct or involvement by senior officials of an entity.
Fast Track Resolution. A limited number of self-reported matters may be eligible for an expedited "Fast-Track Resolution," (FTR) which may be granted at the Commission's discretion. FTR cases will allow respondents an opportunity to resolve certain matters before the Commission makes any formal findings in the matter. It is expected that the FTR process will allow for a faster resolution of certain types of violations where factual and legal issues are fairly clear. Examples include matters where: an individual discovers that he or she inadvertently violated the biennial limit (see 2 U.S.C. 441a(a)(3)); a political committee seeks to disclose and correct straightforward reporting violations; a political committee and contributor seek to resolve liability for a simple and inadvertent excessive or prohibited contribution; and a self-reporting submission is very thorough, requiring little, if any, follow-up by the Office of General Counsel to complete the factual record.
Parallel Proceedings. Self-reported submissions may also be the subject of simultaneous criminal investigations, state administrative proceedings and/or civil litigation. Persons who self-report should make any parallel proceedings known to the Commission and are encouraged to self-report their activity to any law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the activity. Such disclosure increases the possibility that the Commission could work with other federal, state and local agencies to resolve the issues at the same time. In some cases, the Commission may enter into conciliation with respondents who self-reported their violations without requiring an admission that the conduct was knowing and willful, even if evidence might support such a finding. The Commission also may consider the fact that a matter was self-reported when deciding whether to refer a matter to another agency.
The policy statement regarding the self-reporting of violations is available on the Commission's website at https://transition.fec.gov/law/cfr/ej_compilation/2007/notice_2007-8.pdf.