Week of March 29-April 2, 2021
Commission meetings and hearings
No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.
Advisory Opinion Request 2021-04 (Pray.com) On April 1, the Commission made public draft Advisory Opinion 2021-04, responding to a request from Pray.com, a for-profit corporation that operates a mobile application and website providing users with faith-based content. The requestor proposes to invite Members of Congress to produce five-minute audio and/or video statements discussing matters of faith that it will share with users of its digital platforms. The requestor asks whether this activity would result in a coordinated communication with, or corporate in-kind contribution to, participating federal candidates under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations.
The Commission made public three closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
COMPLAINANT: Huizenga for Congress
RESPONDENTS: Americans for Sensible Solutions PAC and David Garrett, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and David Garrett, in his personal capacity
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee, an independent expenditure-only political committee, and Garrett used a Twitter account to solicit funds via PayPal Holdings, Inc. using congressional candidate Bill Huizenga’s name and likeness without his or his principal campaign committee Huizenga for Congress’s permission or authorization. The complaint alleged that the Committee sold unauthorized “Huizenga Trump 2016 Unity Gifts,” such as mugs, shirts, and buttons online, and that it failed to file required disclosure reports. Huizenga was a candidate from Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District in 2016.
DISPOSITION: On February 8, 2018, the Commission found reason to believe the Committee had fraudulently misrepresented itself as acting on behalf of the Huizenga campaign for the purpose of soliciting contributions and had failed to file public disclosure reports. On February 9, 2021, the Commission closed the matter in connection with Garrett, in his personal capacity, and the Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter and closed the file. On April 2, Vice Chair Allen Dickerson and Commissioner James E. “Trey” Trainor III issued a Statement of Reasons, and Vice Chair Dickerson, Commissioner Trainor, and Commissioner Sean J. Cooksey issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Lamont Bostrom
RESPONDENT: Nicholas Jones for Congress and Nicholas Jones, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Jones, a 2020 candidate for Idaho’s 1st Congressional District, failed to file a Statement of Candidacy and that the Committee failed to file its Statement of Organization or file quarterly reports. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Jones created a Facebook page and website for his campaign in late March 2020 and began paying for Facebook ads in support of his candidacy as early as April 6, 2020, but that neither Jones nor his Committee registered with the Commission or filed disclosure reports.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission noted the speculative nature of the allegations and that both the Statement of Candidacy and a Statement of Organization were filed with the Commission in May 2020.
RESPONDENTS: Crystal Run Healthcare, LLP (Crystal Run); Hal Teitelbaum; Michelle Koury; Eric Barbanel; Zewditu Bekele-Arcuri; Rosa Cirillo; Robert Dinsmore; Wael Fakhoury; William Gotsis; Lezode Kipoliongo; Florence Lazaroff; Michael Miller; Jonathan Nassar; Laura Nicoll; Manuel Perry; Emmanuel Schenkman; Gurvinder Sethi; and Sandeep Singh
SUBJECT: Crystal Run filed a sua sponte submission notifying the Commission that Crystal Run had reimbursed federal contributions to candidates made in the names of seventeen doctors and a doctor’s spouse in an amount that exceeded $46,000.
DISPOSITION: On January 28, 2021, the Commission found reason to believe that Crystal Run violated the Act by making contributions in the names of others and making excessive contributions. The Commission also found reason to believe that Teitelbaum and Koury violated the Act by allowing their names to be used to make reimbursed contributions. The Commission dismissed the allegations as to the remaining 15 respondents. The Commission entered into conciliation agreements providing for Crystal Run to pay a civil penalty of $5,000, Teitelbaum to pay a civil penalty of $1,500, and Koury to pay a civil penalty of $1,000. Crystal Run, Teitelbaum, and Koury also agreed to waive the right to any refund from the recipient committees of any and all impermissible contributions referenced in the conciliation agreement, and to request that the recipient committees disgorge all such contributions to the United States Treasury.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Commission made public two closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
RESPONDENT: Rural Freedom Network and Sherwood Guernsey, 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 there was reason to believe that the Committee failed to timely file one 48-Hour Report totaling $45,518 to support two independent expenditures on its July 2020 Quarterly Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) retain an outside consultant to review its compliance procedures and to conduct an on-site training with those responsible for preparing and filing its reports; and 2) pay a civil penalty of $2,275.
RESPONDENT: Midwest Victory PAC and Nick J. Mauro, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe that the Committee failed to timely file a 48-Hour Report totaling $27,500 to support two independent expenditures disclosed on its 2019 Mid-Year Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) certify closure of its federal account and terminate its political committee status and reporting obligations with the Commission; and 2) pay a civil penalty of $1,375.
Van Drew for Congress. On March 30, the Commission made public the Final Audit Report of the Commission on Van Drew for Congress, covering campaign finance activity from November 30, 2017 through December 31, 2018. The Commission approved findings relating to receipt of contributions in excess of the limit and receipt of apparent prohibited contributions.
Campaign Legal Center, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 20-0730) On March 26, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Default Judgment against the Commission, and Intervenor-Defendant Right to Rise Super Pac, Inc. filed a Reply in Support of Intervenor-Defendant’s Motion for Reconsideration and/or Certification for Interlocutory Appeal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
On March 29, Commissioner James E. “Trey” Trainor III spoke to the Leander Area Republican Women on campaign finance law.
On March 30, Chair Shana M. Broussard gave remarks at a Women’s History Month celebration at the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
On March 31, Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub spoke via videoconference to students at Wayne State University Law School about the work of the Commission and careers in public service.
On April 1, Chair Broussard participated in a virtual panel discussion on Regulating Political Ad Spending sponsored by the Duke Center on Science & Technology Policy and Campaign Legal Center.
On April 1, Deputy Staff Director for Management and Administration Kate Higginbothom spoke to the University of Florida Department of Political Science on the role of the Commission.
On April 2, the Commission issued the Statistical Summary of 24-Month Campaign Activity of the 2019-2020 Election Cycle.
Upcoming educational programs
April 7, 2021: The Commission will host a FECFile webinar for candidate committees and a workshop on registration and Form 1 for PACs and parties.
April 21, 2021: The Commission will host a workshop on navigating the FEC website.
April 28, 2021: The Commission will host a FECFile webinar for Trade Associations and Their PACs.
August 17-18, 2021: The Commission will host a Regional Hybrid Conference in Denver, CO.
For more information on upcoming training opportunities, see the Commission’s Trainings page.
Upcoming Commission meetings
April 6, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
April 8, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session and hold an open meeting.
April 20, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
April 22, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session and hold an open meeting.
Upcoming reporting due dates
April 15: April Quarterly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2021 Quarterly Reporting schedule.
April 20: April Monthly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2021 Monthly Reporting schedule.
Status of agency operations
See the Commission’s statement on the status of agency operations, updated on January 4, 2021. At this stage, most agency staff remain in telework status and the Commission’s office remains closed to visitors.
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.
2020 Presidential General Election Results and Federal Elections 2018: Election Results for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are 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 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 currently. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.