Week of April 18-22, 2022
Commission meetings and hearings
No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.
Draft Advisory Opinions
Advisory Opinion Request 2022-02 (Congressman W. Gregory Steube) On April 22, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2022-02. The requestor asks whether he may use campaign funds to purchase and/or install a locking security gate at the end of the driveway at his personal residence.
Advisory Opinion Request 2022-04 (Jill Stein for President) On April 18, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from the Jill Stein for President Committee. The requestor, the principal campaign committee of a publicly financed candidate for president, asks whether certain funds in its existing account may be used to pay administrative fines and to make repayments to the U.S. Treasury and whether it must open a separate account for funds raised to pay administrative fines. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than April 28) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by June 14, 2022.
Advisory Opinion Request 2022-05 (DSCC) On April 19, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2022-05. The requestor, a national political party committee, plans to hire a consultant to write a research book regarding a sitting U.S. senator, and both to use the book to inform its own strategy in that senator’s state and to provide the book to two candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in that state. DSCC asks whether the value of the book to each of the three committees is one-third of the cost DSCC will pay to the consultant. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than April 28) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by May 30, 2022.
The Commission made public four closed cases and two additional Statements of Reasons, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
COMPLAINANT: Dan Backer, Esq., Coolidge-Reagan Foundation
RESPONDENTS: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Congress and Frank Llewellyn, in his official capacity as Treasurer (Ocasio-Cortez for Congress); Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; Brand New Congress and Hosseh Enad, in his official capacity as Treasurer (BNC); Brand New Congress, LLC (the LLC); Riley Roberts; and Saikat Chakrabarti
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Ocasio-Cortez and Ocasio-Cortez for Congress converted campaign funds to personal use by disbursing $6,191.32 to the LLC, an entity affiliated with BNC, which allegedly funded or reimbursed BNC’s $6,000 in disbursements to Roberts. The complaint further alleged that Ocasio-Cortez and Ocasio-Cortez for Congress incorrectly reported the $6,191.32 disbursement to the LLC for “strategic consulting” rather than as a payment to Roberts via the LLC and BNC, which was founded by Chakrabarti. Ocasio-Cortez was a 2018 candidate for New York’s 14th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations as the available information indicated that Roberts provided bona fide services to BNC but did not indicate that he was paid more than the fair market value for those services. The Commission found no reason to believe Ocasio-Cortez and Ocasio-Cortez for Congress misreported a disbursement to the LLC because there was no information to indicate that that $6,000 BNC paid Roberts was funded or reimbursed by the LLC.
COMPLAINANT: Martin A. Lamb
RESPONDENTS: MA4Trump and Dianna Ploss
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that MA4Trump, which stated that it was founded and operated by Boston area radio host Ploss, failed to register and report as a political committee after raising and spending money for events supporting Donald J. Trump’s 2020 reelection. The complaint also alleged that MA4Trump’s use of the name “Trump” in its name violated the Act by holding itself out as an authorized committee of a candidate and that it failed to use the required disclaimer in a newspaper advertisement.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint. Chairman Allen J. Dickerson, Vice Chair Steven T. Walther, and Commissioners Shana M. Broussard, Sean J. Cooksey, James E. “Trey” Trainor, III, and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: Hamilton Company (Hamilton); and Americans for Prosperity Action and Robert Jentgens, in his official capacity as treasurer (AFP)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Hamilton violated the Act’s federal contractor prohibition by making a $300,000 contribution to AFP, an independent expenditure-only political committee, while Hamilton was a federal contractor. The complaint also raised questions as to whether AFP violated the Act by knowingly soliciting a contribution from a federal contractor.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that Hamilton violated the Act’s prohibition on contributions by federal contractors and entered into a conciliation agreement providing for Hamilton to pay a civil penalty of $56,000. The Commission dismissed the allegation that AFP knowingly solicited a contribution from a federal contractor.
RESPONDENTS: Steven C. Watkins Sr.; Diane K. Watkins; Benjamin Knopke; Caroline Wise; Andrew Wise; Dennis Sumner; Kathryne Sumner; Dennis Sumner Construction, Inc.; Committee to Elect Steve Watkins and Steven G. Martin, in his official capacity as treasurer (Watkins Committee)
SUBJECT: Watkins Sr. filed a sua sponte submission stating that he made excessive contributions in the names of others when he reimbursed four individuals for contributions they made to the Watkins Committee, the authorized campaign committee of his son, Steve Watkins, Jr., in violation of the Act and Commission regulations.
DISPOSITION: On January 27, 2022, the Commission voted to dismiss the matter as to Diane Watkins, Benjamin Knopke, Andrew Wise, Caroline Wise, Dennis Sumner, Kathryne Sumner, Sumner Construction, and the Watkins Committee. The Commission found reason to believe that Watkins Sr. violated the Act by making excessive contributions in the name of another. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for Watkins Sr. to pay a civil penalty of $4,000.
MUR 7299 (Wexton for Congress, et al.) On April 22, Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.
MUR 7646 (1820 PAC, et al.) On April 15, Chairman Dickerson and Commissioner Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Commission made public one closed case, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
RESPONDENT: Hickenlooper for Colorado and Mark Turnage, in 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 the Committee failed to timely refund or redesignate contributions in excess of the limit totaling $24,500 and whether the Committee received a prohibited contribution totaling $1,500 during the 2019-2020 election cycle.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to participate in an FEC training program and pay a civil penalty of $1,950.
Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 20-0809) On April 21, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued an Order granting Plaintiff’s Motion for an Order Declaring Failure to Conform to Default Judgment.
Campaign Legal Center, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 21-5081) On April 19, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a Per Curiam Order and Opinion.
End Citizens United PAC v. FEC (Case No. 21-1665) On April 18, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an Order denying Plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment and a Memorandum in support of the Order and dismissing the case.
National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 22-1017) On April 12, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
On April 22, Chairman Dickerson issued an Interpretive Statement on 11 C.F.R. § 103.3 and the disgorgement of unlawful contributions.
On April 20, the Commission hosted an FECConnect OnTopic session on Filing 48-Hour Notices for Last-Minute Contributions and Loans.
Upcoming Commission meetings
April 26 and 28, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
April 28, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
Upcoming educational programs
May 11, 2022: The Commission will host a webinar for corporations and their PACs.
May 18, 2022: The Commission will host an FECConnect OnTopic session on responding to Requests for Additional Information (RFAIs) from the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD).
May 25, 2022: The Commission will host a webinar for membership and labor organizations and their PACs.
For more information on upcoming training opportunities, see the Commission’s Trainings page.
Upcoming reporting due dates
May 20: May Monthly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2022 Monthly Reporting schedule.
Updated Campaign Guide
The Commission recently updated its Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees. The new Guide, which replaces the 2014 edition, provides an overall summary of the federal campaign finance laws that apply to candidates for the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate and their campaign committees. Printed versions of the Guide are now available for order from the Commission’s Information Division.
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 Presidential Election Campaign Fund Tax Checkoff Chart provides information on balance of the Fund, monthly deposits into the Fund reported by the Department of the Treasury, payments from the Fund as certified by the FEC, and participation rates of taxpayers as reported by the Internal Revenue Service. For more information on the Presidential Public Funding Program, see the Public Funding of Presidential Elections page.
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. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.