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  • Weekly Digests

Week of February 11 - 15, 2019

February 15, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

Request received

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-03 (DC Libertarian Party)

On February 15, 2019, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2019-03 from the DC Libertarian Party which asks whether the DC Libertarian Party qualifies as a state committee of the Libertarian National Party. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than February 25) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by April 15, 2019.

Enforcement

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

MUR 6985

  • COMPLAINANT: Robin Long
  • RESPONDENTS: Lee Zeldin; Zeldin for Congress and Nancy Marks, in her official capacity as treasurer (Federal Committee); Zeldin for Senate (State Committee); Islip Town Conservative Executive Committee; Suffolk Conservative Chairman's Club; Friends of Senft; New York State Conservative Party; Smithtown Conservatives for Victory; Smithtown Women's Republican Club; Smithtown Republican Victory Fund; Babylon Conservative Committee; Riverhead Republican Committee; Committee to Elect a Republican Majority; Queens County Conservative Party; and New York Republican State Committee
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Zeldin’s State Committee raised and spent funds outside the amount limitations and source prohibitions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act), including impermissible transfers to the Federal Committee, via reciprocal contributions from state and local political committees and candidates and coordinated advertisements. The complaint also alleged that Zeldin’s Federal Committee accepted prohibited contributions from the State Committee’s transfer of nonfederal funds and that the Federal Committee failed to report those transactions. Zeldin was a 2014 candidate for New York’s 1st Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: On March 23, 2017, the Commission found reason to believe Zeldin and the State Committee had received impermissible transfers and made impermissible transfers to state and local political committees and authorized pre-probable cause conciliation with these respondents. The Commission found no reason to believe the Federal Committee or the state and local political committees had violated the Act with respect to receiving or making prohibited transfers. The Commission also found no reason to believe Zeldin or the State Committee violated the Act with respect to the alleged reciprocal contributions or alleged coordinated advertisements. In response to the Commission’s findings, Zeldin and the State Committee provided detailed financial information and an affidavit from the State Committee’s treasurer containing new information in support of its position that the State Committee used permissible funds to make the state and local political contributions and transfers at issue. As a result, on November 30, 2018, the Commission voted to take no further action against the respondents. Former Commissioner Lee E. Goodman issued a Concurring Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7104

  • COMPLAINANT: Kevin Tober
  • RESPONDENTS: Frederick John LaVergne for Congress and Leonard Marshall in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Frederick John LaVergne
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that (1) the Committee failed to report disbursements for rental payments for two campaign offices, (2) a web page soliciting contributions for the Committee did not contain a proper disclaimer, and (3) the disclaimer on the homepage of the Committee's website was not contained within a printed box. LaVergne was a 2016 candidate for New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: On May 24, 2017, The Commission found reason to believe the Committee failed to properly report disbursements since the Committee appeared to have leased at least two offices but did not report disbursements for office space. Further, the Commission found no reason to believe the Committee’s home page displayed an improper disclaimer since the disclaimer requirements for printed communications do not apply to web pages and the disclaimer on a committee’s homepage is not required to display the disclaimer within a printed box. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and voted to dismiss the allegations regarding improper disclaimers on the Committee’s contribution page. The Commission observed that the page contained information indicating that the Committee was the responsible party for the solicitation page and that even if the disclaimer was incomplete, the disclaimer appeared to contain sufficient information to identify the party responsible for the communication. On December 4, 2018, the Commission voted to take no further action against the Committee or LaVergne, and sent a letter reminding the Committee to ensure that any future campaign activity is in compliance with the Act and that committee treasurers are required to report receipts and disbursements.

MUR 7398

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Jack Graham for U.S. Senate and Cheryl S. Klein, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee);
  • SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether the Committee failed to disclose disbursements totaling $252,571 on its original 2016 12-Day Pre-Primary Report. Graham was a 2016 candidate for Colorado’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe the Committee violated the Act and entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $6,000.

MUR 7433

  • COMPLAINANT: Sheila Fredericks
  • RESPONDENTS: Calvin D. Turnquest for Congress and Olivia Outmezguine in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Calvin D. Turnquest
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that when a contributor requested a refund after discovering she had made an excessive contribution, the Committee refused to provide it. The complaint further alleged that the Committee reported that it had refunded a portion of the excessive contribution to the contributor, but she contends that she never received the refund. Turnquest was a 2014 candidate for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in furtherance of Commission priorities. The Commission noted the modest amount at issue and that the Committee was terminated more than two years before the complaint was filed.

MUR 7472

  • COMPLAINANT: Self-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Vincent Barletta; Barletta Engineering Corporation (BEC); Barletta Heavy Division, Inc.; Adphalt Corp; BBG Agency, LLC; First Fidelity Corporation; Puma Corporation; Dallas Babineau; Linda Brown; Leonard Brown; John Dargin; Thomas Day; Ann-Marie Gardella; Daniel Gardella; Kevin Huie; Martin Naughton; Ryan Ondrejko; and Christopher Spencer
  • SUBJECT: Barletta disclosed that between 2011 and 2015, he caused three corporations under his control --Adphalt Corp., First Fidelity, and BEC -- to reimburse $39,800 in contributions to federal candidates and committees that had been made in the names of BEC employees or their spouses.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe Barletta and the three corporations made prohibited corporate contributions in the name of another and entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the respondents to pay a civil penalty of $56,000. Additionally, the respondents agreed to waive any right to refunds regarding the impermissible contributions and instead to request that the recipient political committees of the $39,800 disgorge those amounts to the United States Treasury. The Commission closed the file with respect to Barletta Heavy Division, BBG Agency, LLC, and Puma Corporation. The Commission closed the file but issued letters of caution to Babineau, Brown, Brown, Dargin, Day, Gardella, Gardella, Huie, Naughton, Ondrejko, and Spencer.

Litigation

Audits

  • Final Audit Report on Friends of Erik Paulsen. On February 15, the Commission made public the Final Audit Report on Friends of Erik Paulsen, covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016. The Commission approved an additional issue pertaining to the receipt of contributions in excess of the limit.
  • Final Audit Report on Marsha Blackburn for Congress, Inc. On February 15, the Commission made public the Final Audit Report on Marsha Blackburn for Congress, Inc., covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016. The Commission approved findings pertaining to misstatement of financial activity, disclosure of occupation and name of employer, and receipt of contributions in excess of the limit.

Rulemakings and agency procedures

Upcoming events

  • February 21, 1:30 pm: Chair Ellen L. Weintraub will host “The Most Expensive Midterm Ever: What the Numbers Tell Us About Spending on the 2018 Midterms,” the first session in the 2019 Campaign Finance Speaker Series. Sheila Krumholz, Executive Director of the Center for Responsive Politics, and Professor Michael Malbin, Director of the Campaign Finance Institute, will be the featured speakers.
  • February 21, 3-5 pm: Chair Ellen L. Weintraub invites members of the campaign finance community and the press to a reception in the FEC’s new building. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to rsvp@fec.gov by February 19.

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

Upcoming reporting due dates

  • February 20, 2019: February Monthly reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming educational programs

  • On February 27, Commission staff will host a compliance webinar for corporations and their political action committees (PACs).
  • On March 13, Commission staff will host Candidate 101: Getting Started, a webinar for first-time candidates and potential candidates, as well as their campaign staff.

Additional research materials

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

Printed copies of the 2018 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are now available. Contact the Commission's Information Division at (202) 694-1100 or (800) 424-9530 (press 6, when prompted) to order printed copies of the CFR at no charge. You may also email the Information Division to place an order at info@fec.gov.

The 2017 Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations is available. Other Campaign Guides are available, as well.

Federal Elections 2016: Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives is available. The data was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices. To order a printed copy, please contact the FEC’s Public Records Office at 800/424-9530 (option 2) or 202/694-1120, or send an email to pubrec@fec.gov.

The Combined Federal State Disclosure and Election Directory is available. 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.

Join the FEC on Twitter and YouTube

Follow @FEC on Twitter to receive the latest information on agency updates, news releases, and weekly activity. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, FECTube: FECConnect on Demand, to watch instructional videos that have been designed to help candidates and committees comply with federal campaign finance laws. Note that the FEC is not currently available through other social media platforms at this time. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.