Week of April 25-29, 2022
Commission meetings and hearings
On April 26 and 28, the Commission met in executive session.
On April 28, the Commission held an open meeting.
Advisory Opinion 2022-02 (Congressman W. Gregory Steube) On April 28, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Congressman W. Gregory Steube. The Commission concluded that the proposed use of campaign funds for the purchase and installation of a locking steel security gate as part of the residential security system as specifically recommended by the requestor’s county sheriff’s office, and more generally by the Office of the House Sergeant at Arms, is permissible under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act,) and Commission regulations.
The Commission made public eight closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
COMPLAINANTS: Campaign Legal Center; and Coolidge Reagan Foundation
RESPONDENTS: DNC Services Corp./Democratic National Committee and Virginia McGregor, in her official capacity as treasurer (DNC); Hillary for America and Elizabeth Jones, in her official capacity as treasurer (HFA); Perkins Coie LLP (Perkins Coie); Marc Elias; Fusion GPS; and Christopher Steele
SUBJECT: The complaints in these matters alleged that the DNC and HFA, the authorized committee of 2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, failed to file accurate disclosure reports when they mischaracterized the payee and purpose of certain disbursements disclosed as made to Perkins Coie for legal services. The complaint in MUR 7449 further alleged that Steele, a foreign national whose firm was a subcontractor for Fusion GPS, violated the foreign national provision of the Act and Commission regulations.
DISPOSITION: On July 23, 2019, the Commission found reason to believe that the DNC and HFA violated the Act by misreporting the purpose of funds paid to Fusion GPS and Perkins Coie. The Commission dismissed the allegations that Elias and Perkins Coie violated the reporting requirements of the Act by aiding and abetting false reporting by the DNC and HFA. On December 16, 2021, the Commission found probable cause to believe that the DNC and HFA violated the Act by failing to report the proper purpose of the funds the DNC and HFA paid to Perkins Coie for opposition research performed by Fusion GPS and entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the DNC to pay a civil penalty of $105,000. The Commission entered into a separate conciliation agreement providing for HFA to pay a civil penalty of $8,000. On March 25, 2022, the Commission dismissed the allegations that Steele, Elias, Perkins Coie, HFA, and Fusion GPS violated the foreign national provisions of the Act and Commission regulations. Act and Commission regulations.
COMPLAINANT: J. McCauley Brown, Chairman, Republican Party of Kentucky
RESPONDENTS: Honor Bound PAC (f/k/a Amy McGrath for Senate, Inc.) and Chris Patton, in his official capacity as Treasurer (Honor Bound); Mark L. Nickolas; and Save America Fund and Edward Galvin, in his official capacity as Treasurer (Save America Fund)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Honor Bound through Nickolas, the then-campaign manager for Amy McGrath’s 2020 campaign for Kentucky’s United States Senate seat, knowingly and willfully solicited impermissible, non-federal funds to Save America Fund, an independent expenditure-only political committee. McGrath for Senate, Inc. converted to Honor Bound in 2021.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for Honor Bound and Nickolas to pay a civil penalty of $12,000. The Commission found no reason to believe Save America Fund violated the Act, because as an independent expenditure-only political committee, it was not subject to the regulation of solicitations of non-federal funds by candidates.
COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
RESPONDENTS: VoteVets and Rick Hegdahl, in his official capacity as treasurer (VoteVets); Win the Era PAC (f/k/a Pete for America) and Ed Jordanich, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Michael Halle
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee, through its agent Halle, requested or suggested that VoteVets, a multicandidate, hybrid political committee, run television advertisements in Nevada supporting Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 primary campaign for President, and that VoteVets responded by spending $639,000 to do so, thus making the advertisements coordinated communications under the Act and resulting in an excessive in-kind contribution from VoteVets to the Committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that (1) VoteVets made an excessive contribution or failed to report an excessive contribution, (2) the Committee knowingly accepted an excessive contribution or failed to report that contribution, or (3) Halle violated the Act or Commission regulations in connection with the alleged contribution. Chairman Allen Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey, James E. “Trey” Trainor, III and Ellen Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Caitlin Sutherland, Americans for Public Trust
RESPONDENTS: Courier Newsroom, Inc. (Courier); Acronym; and Tara McGowan
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Courier, a company that is owned by the non-profit organization, Acronym, and supports Democratic Party candidates for federal office, failed to register and report as a political committee. McGowan serves as Acronym’s Chief Executive Officer.
DISPOSITION: The Commission dismissed the allegation that Courier failed to register and report as a political committee as the activities at issue fell within the scope of the Act’s so-called press exemption. The Commission found no reason to believe that either Acronym or McGowan violated the Act because the provisions of the Act that Courier is alleged to have violated do not appear to contemplate liability for an entity’s owners or officers. Commissioner Cooksey issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Eugene Delgaudio; and Public Advocate of the United States, Inc.
RESPONDENTS: Twitter, Inc.; and Biden for President and Andrea Wise, in her official capacity as Treasurer (Biden Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Twitter, Inc. made, and the Biden Committee accepted, a prohibited in-kind corporate contribution after Twitter, Inc. suspended the Complainants’ account because it promoted the policies of former President Donald J. Trump and criticized policies promoted by then-candidate and current President Joseph R. Biden. The complaint further alleged that this contribution was a result of coordination between the Respondents, and that the Biden Committee failed to report receipt of the contribution on its campaign finance disclosure report.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the Respondents violated the Act as no available information substantiated the allegation that Twitter suspended the Complainants’ account for the purpose of furthering an election or the allegation that Twitter coordinated with the Biden Committee in temporarily suspending the Complainants’ account.
COMPLAINANT: American Principles Project PAC
RESPONDENT: Facebook, Inc.
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Facebook, Inc. made prohibited in-kind corporate contributions to two federal candidates after Facebook, Inc. reduced the distribution of an advertisement posted by the Complainant that criticized the two candidates.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe Facebook, Inc. made prohibited in-kind contributions, as the available information showed that Facebook, Inc. was motivated by a commercial, rather than an electoral, interest underlying its fact-checking program. The Commission observed that there was no basis to reasonably conclude that Facebook coordinated with other federal candidates or their committees.
COMPLAINANT: Tony McDonald
RESPONDENTS: Google, LLC; and Biden for President and Andrea Wise, in her official capacity as treasurer (Biden Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Google, LLC made, and the Biden Committee accepted, prohibited in-kind corporate contributions after Google, LLC intentionally slowed internet traffic in connection with some content in order to influence the 2020 presidential election in support of then-candidate and current President Joseph R. Biden. The complaint further alleged that these contributions were a result of coordination between the Respondents.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the Respondents violated the Act because no available information substantiated the allegation that Google, LLC acted for the purpose of influencing a federal election. The Commission observed that there was no information presented to suggest that Google, LLC coordinated with the Biden Committee.
Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the UtePAC. On April 28, the Commission approved the six findings in the Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the UtePAC, covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. The Commission approved findings on misstatement of financial activity, increased activity (corrected), cash disbursements, recordkeeping for disbursements, recordkeeping for communications, and disclosure of disbursements.
Final Audit Report of the Democracy Engine Inc., PAC. On April 29, the Commission issued the Final Audit Report of the Commission of the Democracy Engine Inc., PAC, covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2018. The Commission did not approve by the required four affirmative votes findings on failure to maintain a bank depository, inaccurate disclosure of Statement of Organization, and failure to maintain records sufficient to verify reported activity.
Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 21-406) On April 25, Heritage Action for America filed a Motion for Leave to File Amicus Curiae Brief Requesting Abeyance in Light of Pending Request for Material Information from the Federal Election Commission and an Amicus Curiae Brief Requesting Abeyance in Light of Pending Request for Material Information from the Federal Election Commission, and on April 27, filed an Amicus Curiae Brief Requesting Abeyance in Light of Pending Request for Material Information From the Federal Election Commission in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 20-809) On April 28, 45Committee, Inc. filed an Expedited Motion to Intervene for the Purpose of Appeal and a Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Expedited Motion to Intervene for the Purpose of Appeal in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
FEC v. Rivera (Case No. 17-22643) On April 26, Defendant filed a Motion to Alter or Amend or for Relief from Judgment in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
FEC approves advisory opinion, Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum (issued April 28)
Upcoming Commission meetings
May 10 and 12, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
May 12, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
May 24 and 26, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
May 26, 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.