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  • Weekly Digests

Week of June 25– June 29, 2018

June 29, 2018

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory opinions

Advisory opinion issued

Advisory Opinion 2018-09 (Clements for Congress)

On June 28, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Clements for Congress (the Committee), the principal campaign committee of Paul Clements, a 2018 primary candidate for Michigan’s 6th Congressional District. The Commission concluded that it is permissible for the Committee to use campaign funds to pay for legal expenses incurred in seeking to gain access to the ballot in an upcoming congressional election because the expenses would not exist irrespective of the campaign of the candidate. During the discussion, the Commission heard from the candidate.

Request received

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-10 (United Utah Party Candidate Committee)

On June 28, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2018-10.  The requestor asks whether it qualifies as a state political party committee.  The Commission must issue a response no later than the first business day following the 60th day after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by August 21, 2018.

Audits

Final Audit Report of the Commission on Mike Bishop for Congress. On June 25, the Commission issued the Final Audit Report on Mike Bishop for Congress, covering financial activity from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2016. The Commission approved a finding that the Committee failed to disclose debts and obligations to 10 vendors totaling $139,524.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7007

  • COMPLAINANTS: Richard Stubblefield; and FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Kyle McCarter for Congress Committee and Kelly Standfield, in her official capacity as treasurer (McCarter Committee); Citizens for Kyle McCarter (State Committee); Rural King Distribution & Management, Inc.; Rural King Distributing; Total Grain Marketing, LLC; Burgdorf and Associates Wealth Managers, Inc.; Tri Ford, Inc.; James W. Best; and Darren Bailey
  • SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, and in response to a complaint, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe the McCarter Committee received excessive and prohibited contributions, including general election contributions that were not refunded after Kyle McCarter, a 2016 primary candidate for Illinois’s 15th Congressional District, lost the election, and in-kind contributions from the State Committee, which allegedly paid for consulting services for the federal campaign.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that the Committee knowingly accepted excessive and prohibited contributions. The Commission also found reason to believe Best made an excessive contribution to the Committee. The Commission entered into conciliation agreements providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $5,300 and Best to pay a civil penalty of $3,700. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation against Bailey. The Commission found no reason to believe that Burgdorf and Associates Wealth Managers, Inc. or Rural King Distributing made prohibited contributions because the contributions at issue were refunded timely.  The Commission found no reason to believe Rural King Distribution & Management, Inc. or Total Grain Marketing, LLC made prohibited contributions because the available record indicated that they did not make the contributions at issue. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation of a prohibited contribution with respect to Tri Ford, Inc. The Commission observed that the amount of that contribution was small.

MUR 7150

  • COMPLAINANT: Edward Cox
  • RESPONDENT: New Yorkers Together and Peter Sikora, in his official capacity as treasurer (NYT)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that NYT distributed public communications that expressly advocated against the election of Donald Trump without registering as a political committee with the Commission and without filing required disclosure reports. 
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe NYT had engaged in express advocacy for or against a clearly identified federal candidate because there was no exhortation in the communication for any action with regard to Trump, and the only directive contained in the communication, in large, unmistakable letters, was to vote against a nonfederal candidate. Consequently, reasonable minds could differ as to the interpretation of the mailer.

MUR 7163

  • COMPLAINANT: Tuckerman Babcock
  • RESPONDENT: Citizens for Joe Miller and Thomas John Nelson in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Joe Miller; and Restoring Liberty LLC
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee accepted prohibited contributions and failed to include proper disclaimers on solicitations and communications, failed to properly disclose various receipts and expenditures, and fabricated in-kind contributions.  Miller was a 2016 candidate for Alaska’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint. The Commission observed that the campaign in question lasted only eight weeks, the associated costs were likely small, and there was no information indicating the Committee inflated the value of any in-kind contribution in order to reimburse Miller for more than its value.

MUR 7261

  • COMPLAINANT: Patricia Ann Noonan
  • RESPONDENT: Levi for Colorado and Paula Sandoval in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Levi Tillemann
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Tillemann failed to file required disclosure reports after he became a candidate. Levi Tillemann is a 2018 candidate for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. 
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint. The Commission observed the small amount of activity at issue. The Commission sent a letter cautioning Tillemann and the Committee to take steps to comply with the registration and reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act).

MUR 7365

  • COMPLAINANT: Self-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Let America Work and Benjamin Ottenhoff in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The Committee notified the Commission that it failed to disclose in a timely manner, through a 24-Hour Report, an independent expenditure of $324,821 in connection with a Senatorial campaign in the 2016 general election. 
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe the Committee failed to disclose the expenditure timely and entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $12,500.

Litigation

Rulemakings and agency procedures

On June 27-28, the Commission heard testimony from 18 experts at a two-day public hearing on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding internet communication disclaimers. The Commission is considering proposals for a rulemaking to amend the definition of “public communication” and regulations concerning disclaimers on public communications on the internet that contain express advocacy, solicit contributions, or are made by political committees. The Commission received over 165,800 public comments and signatories to others’ comments on the NPRM, which are available here. On June 27, Commissioner Matthew S. Petersen issued a Statement on REG 2011-02 Internet Communication Disclaimers.

Press releases

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

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

Upcoming reporting due dates

  • July 15: July Quarterly Reports are due. For more information on quarterly reporting dates, refer to the 2018 Quarterly Reporting page of the Commission website.
  • July 20: July Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2018 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming Educational Outreach

Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

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.

The 2018 Congressional Primary Election Dates list is available.

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 2017 edition of 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.

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