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  • Weekly Digests

Week of February 4 - 8, 2019

February 8, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory Opinion Requests

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-01 (It Starts Today)

On February 6, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2019-01 from It Starts Today, a nonconnected political committee, which asks whether it may establish traditional and presumptive nominee funds that are conditioned on a public endorsement. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than February 19) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by April 8, 2019.

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-02 (Bill Nelson for Senate)

On February 8, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2019-02 from Bill Nelson for Senate, which asks whether it may use excess funds in its recount account to make a donation to a charitable organization or a transfer to a national party committee’s account established under 52 U.S.C. § 30116(a)(9)(C) for recounts, contests, other legal proceedings. The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by April 1, 2019.

Enforcement

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

MUR 6793

  • COMPLAINANT: Texans for Stovall and Katherine Brackeen Stovall, in her official capacity as treasurer
  • RESPONDENTS: Steve Stockman for Senate and Daniel Wholihan, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Steve Stockman; The Center for the American Future, Inc. (CAF); and Jason Posey
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that then-Congressman Stockman and the Committee coordinated with CAF and Posey, its founder, on a mailer expressly advocating Stockman’s election to the U.S. Senate in 2014, resulting in an excessive in-kind contribution to the Committee. The complaint also alleged that the mailer lacked a proper disclaimer.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter. The Commission observed that a subsequent indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas already had resulted in a criminal conviction for Stockman, including for aiding and abetting the making of excessive contributions aggregating in excess of $25,000, and that Posey pled guilty to charges alleged in the indictment.

MUR 7300

  • COMPLAINANT: Dr. Elinor Burkitt
  • RESPONDENTS: Jeffrey Beals; and Jeff Beals for Congress and Allen Beals, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Beals did not have sufficient personal funds to make a $56,000 candidate loan to his campaign, and that the Commission should investigate whether that money constituted a prohibited or excessive contribution.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 7436

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Warrior PAC and John Mathis, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether Warrior PAC, an independent expenditure-only political committee, failed to timely file four 48-Hour Reports of independent expenditures totaling $604,662.38 in support of Robert L. Maness, a 2016 candidate for Louisiana’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $5,000. The Commission observed that the Committee requested to terminate in January 2017, has no cash, and contends it cannot raise additional funds.

Audits

  • Proposed Final Audit Report on Friends of Erik Paulsen. On February 1, the Commission approved the Proposed 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.
  • Proposed Final Audit Report on Marsha Blackburn for Congress, Inc. On February 1, the Commission approved the Proposed 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.
  • Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on Tony Cardenas for Congress. On February 7, the Commission held over the Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on Tony Cardenas for Congress, covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016. The memorandum discussed findings pertaining to misstatement of financial activity and receipt of contributions in excess of the limit.

Litigation

  • FEC v. Rivera (Case No. 17-22643) On February 1, the defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss Amended Complaint in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
  • Nader v. FEC (Case No. 10-989) On February 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction.

Public disclosure

On February 7, the Commission published in the Federal Register updated contribution limits that have been indexed for inflation and are effective for federal elections in 2019-2020.

Regulations and agency operations

Draft Notice of Availability on REG 2018-05 (Size of Letters in Disclaimers). On February 7, the Commission approved a Notice of Availability on REG 2018-05, in response to a Petition for Rulemaking from Extreme Reach. The Petition asks the Commission to revise and amend the existing rule in 11 C.F.R. §110.11(c)(3)(iii)(A) concerning the size of letters in disclaimers in TV ads, specifically to reduce the required minimum size from four percent of vertical picture height to two percent of vertical picture height for transmissions in high-definition resolution. The Commission will accept comments for 60 days after the Notice is published in the Federal Register.

Press releases

Commissioner Statements

On February 7, Chair Ellen L. Weintraub provided welcoming remarks at the Commission’s open meeting.

Upcoming events

  • February 21, 1:30: 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. Please RSVP to rsvp@fec.gov by February 19.
  • 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.

The Commission has posted the filing deadlines for the Pennsylvania 12th Congressional District Special Election. For information on reporting dates for this election, refer to the Special Election Report Notice.

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.