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  • Weekly Digests

Week of December 1 - December 8, 2017

December 8, 2017

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory Opinions

Advisory Opinion 2017-12 (Take Back Action Fund). On December 4, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2017-12. The requestor asks whether and how the disclaimer requirements apply to its proposed paid Facebook video and image ads. Public comments are due by noon on December 13, 2017.

Enforcement

The Commission made public two closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6857

  • COMPLAINANTS: Judy Brown and Lawson Brouse
  • RESPONDENT: Jerry Gappens
  • SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Inc. (NHMS) made a prohibited in-kind corporate contribution to Marilinda Garcia for Congress (the Committee) when it hosted a fundraiser for the Committee that was arranged by Gappens, Executive Vice President and General Manager of NHMS, but the Committee reported the contribution as in-kind contributions from Gappens. Garcia was a 2014 candidate for New Hampshire’s 2nd Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that Jerry Gappens,a corporate officer of NHMS, consented to the making of a prohibited corporate contribution by NHMS to the Committee. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for Gappens to pay a civil penalty of $1,200.

MUR 7141

  • COMPLAINANT: UNITE HERE Local 11
  • RESPONDENTS: Wang Jianlin; Wanda Group; Benxi Ding; Beverly Hills Residents and Businesses to Preserve Our City, an Exploratory Committee (Ballot Measure Committee); Wanda Beverly Hills Properties LLC; Wanda Los Angeles Properties Co., LTD; Athens BH Development LLC; Lakeshore East Parcel P, LLC; and Magellan Development Group
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Ballot Measure Committee accepted foreign national contributions and that foreign nationals directed that Committee’s efforts to oppose a ballot measure.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that the Ballot Measure Committee and the other respondents violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations because (1) none of the funds at issue appear to have originated with a foreign national and (2) it does not appear that foreign nationals participated in the decision to make a contribution to the Ballot Measure Committee.

Assessment of Commission Action on Enforcement Matters Awaiting Reason-to-Believe Consideration. On December 7, the Commission discussed a memorandum providing an update on the status of enforcement matters awaiting reason-to-believe consideration by the Commission, as well as an assessment of recent efforts by the agency to address the backlog of matters, and held over more detailed discussion until the next open meeting. That discussion is to include consideration of amending Directive 68 to require additional reporting on the status of matters in which a First General Counsel’s Report is pending.

Administrative fines

The Commission made public two campaign finance enforcement matters that were resolved through its Administrative Fines (AF) program, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

AF 3328

Crane for Congress Inc. and Michael Robert Crane, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $326.

AF 3333

Zinke for Congress and Lorna Kuney, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $3,929.

Litigation

Audits

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the NY Republican Federal Campaign Committee.

On December 7, the Commission approved three findings in an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the NY Republican Federal Campaign Committee, covering activity between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2012. The approved findings related to recordkeeping for employees, disclosure of contributors’ employer and occupation information, and recordkeeping for communications. The Commission approved a portion of the Misstatement of Financial Activity finding and directed the Audit Division to include the remainder in the Additional Issues section of the Proposed Final Audit, as well as the reporting of apparent independent expenditures. The Audit Division will prepare the Proposed Final Audit Report within 30 days.

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Hawaii Democratic Party.

On December 7, the Commission discussed seven findings in an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Hawaii Democratic Party, covering activity between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2012, but held over a vote until the next open meeting. The findings relate to the misstatement of financial activity, receipt of contributions that exceed the allowable limits, receipt of apparent impermissible funds, reporting of debts and obligations, recordkeeping for employees, failure to properly report media-related expenditures, and allocation of expenditures.

Proposed Final Audit Report on the Freedom’s Defense Fund.

On December 6, the Commission approved four findings in a proposed Final Audit Report on the Freedom’s Defense Fund, covering activity between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2012. The approved findings relate to the misstatement of financial activity, disclosure of contributors’ employer and occupation information, reporting of apparent independent expenditures, and recordkeeping for communications.

Proposed Final Audit Report on the Conservative Majority Fund.

On December 6, the Commission approved five findings in a proposed Final Audit Report on the Conservative Majority Fund, covering activity between July 9, 2012, and December 31, 2012. The approved findings relate to the misstatement of financial activity, disclosure of contributors’ employer and occupation information, reporting of apparent independent expenditures, reporting of debts and obligations, and recordkeeping for communications.

Rulemaking and agency procedures

FY 2017 Annual FOIA Report. The Commission discussed a report detailing the agency’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) activities for Fiscal Year 2017. A copy of the report has been submitted to the Department of Justice’s Office of Information Policy.

Outreach

Between December 3 and 6, Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub and several Commission staff members traveled to Toronto, Canada, for the annual conference of the Council of Government Ethics Laws (COGEL), a professional organization for government agencies, organizations, and individuals with responsibilities in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, lobbying laws and freedom of information.

Press releases

FEC approves findings in an Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum(issued December 7).

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.

Educational programs

On December 6, the Commission hosted a Nonconnected PAC Webinar. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

Upcoming reporting due dates

December 20: December Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2017 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Additional research materials

The Official 2016 Presidential General Election Results are available in the Library section of the website. This listing was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices.

Additional research materials about the agency, campaign finance information, and election results are available through the Library sectionof the Commission website.

The >2017 edition of the Combined Federal State Disclosure and Election Directory is available on the new Commission website. This publication identifies the federal and state agencies responsible for the disclosure of campaign finances, lobbying, personal finances, public financing, candidates on the ballot, election results, spending on state initiatives and other financial filings.

The FEC Record is available as a continuously updated online news source.

The 2017 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations can be downloaded from the website. To order printed copies, call (800) 424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.

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