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  • Weekly Digests

Week of July 6-10, 2020

July 10, 2020

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

Request Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2020-04 (Joan Farr for U.S. Senate)

On July 9, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2020-04 from Joan Farr and Joan Farr for U.S. Senate. The request asks whether the candidate may reward persons who make contributions to Joan Farr for U.S. Senate with copies of a book authored by the candidate. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than July 20, 2018) and shall issue a response no later than 60 days after receipt of the complete request, specifically by September 4, 2020.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7643

COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: America Progress Now (APN); and Evan Muhlstein
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that unknown persons operating a Facebook page called America Progress Now violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), by failing to disclose independent expenditures and to include required disclaimers on Facebook ads made in connection with the 2018 midterm elections. The complaint alleged that APN did not report any independent expenditures, and questions whether an organization by that name exists. Muhlstein, responding to the complaint on behalf of APN, acknowledged that he set up the APN Facebook page and placed the ads to advocate for candidates he supported.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint, noting the modest amounts spent and respondents’ stated willingness to take necessary remedial action. The Commission sent a letter reminding the respondents to ensure that any future campaign activity is in compliance with the Act. Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

Rulemakings and agency procedures

The Commission invites public comment on a Notification of Availability, published in the Federal Register on June 30, regarding a Petition for Rulemaking asking the Commission to amend its regulations to limit the amount that the authorized committee of a federal candidate may transfer to a national political party committee so that a self-funded candidate cannot transfer funds derived from the candidate’s personal funds to a national political party committee if the transferred funds would exceed the annual limit on an individual’s contributions to such a committee. Comments can be submitted online and are due by August 31, 2020.

Litigation

Campaign Legal Center, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 20-0730) On July 9, Plaintiffs filed a Response in Opposition to Intervenor-Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Outreach

On July 10, Chair James E. “Trey” Trainor was a keynote speaker for the 2020 Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) National Election Law Seminar in Greenbrier, WV.

Upcoming reporting due dates

July 15: July Quarterly reports are due. For more information on quarterly reporting dates, refer to the 2020 Quarterly Reporting page of the Commission website.

July 20: July Monthly reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2020 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Updated election dates

As states postpone congressional and presidential primary elections to limit possible COVID-19 exposure, the Commission is updating the reporting dates and deadlines associated with those elections. These postponements affect pre-election reports (including 48-Hour Notices for candidate committees), as well as the coordinated communications, electioneering communications, Federal Election Activity and independent expenditure periods for primary elections. Additionally, affected campaigns may continue to accept primary contributions until the date of their rescheduled elections. For the latest reporting updates, please visit the Commission’s Dates and deadlines web page.

Status of agency operations

A statement on the status of agency operations, updated on June 18, 2020, outlines the impact of the staff’s current telework environment on agency services, addresses submission of documents including enforcement complaints, and highlights procedures for presidential and vice presidential candidates to submit public financial disclosure reports. Beginning June 18, the agency has entered the initial phase of reopening and return to normal operations. At this stage, most agency staff remain in telework status and the Commission’s office remains closed to visitors. During this phase, the FEC is resuming mail processing, including any mail delivered since the agency suspended its mail operations on March 17. However, the agency will not accept or process any documents or correspondence delivered by courier. Incoming mail, including non-electronically filed reports, advisory opinion requests, enforcement complaints, and court-case documents, will typically be processed on a weekly basis. Outgoing mail will be processed on a similar schedule.

Additional research materials

Contribution Limits. In addition to the current limits, the Commission has posted an archive of contribution limits that were in effect going back to the 1975-1976 election cycles.

Federal Elections 2018: Election Results for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives is available. The data was compiled from the official vote totals published by state election offices.

FEC Notify: Want to be notified by email when campaign finance reports are received by the agency? Sign up here.

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

The 2019 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.

Other election-related resources

Videos on protecting U.S. elections. The FBI’s Protected Voices initiative provides videos designed to help political campaigns protect themselves from foreign influence. The 2019 videos offer guidance on ransomware, business email compromise, supply chain, social media literacy, and foreign influence operations. Other videos, released in 2018, include cyber hygiene topics such as social engineering, patching, router hardening, and app and browser safety.

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.

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