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  • Weekly Digests

Week of April 8 – 12, 2019

April 12, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory opinions

Advisory opinion issued

  • Advisory Opinion 2019-04 (Prytany LLC) On April 11, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Prytany LLC concerning its proposal to provide certain online contribution-processing services to political committees. The Commission concluded that the proposed services would not result in Prytany making contributions or incurring reporting obligations.

Advisory Opinions Considered

  • Advisory Opinion 2018-12 (Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc.) On April 11, the Commission discussed and held over for further drafting an advisory opinion request from Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc. (DDC). The request concerns DDC’s proposal to provide or facilitate the provision of certain cybersecurity services, software, and hardware for free or at a reduced cost to federal candidate committees and national party committees on a nonpartisan basis and according to pre-determined, objective criteria. During the discussion, the Commission heard from the requestor and counsel for the requestor. The Commission received three comments on the Advisory Opinion Request and draft opinions.
  • Advisory Opinion 2019-06 (Leigh Brown) On April 11, the Commission did not approve by the requisite four votes either draft of an advisory opinion, or a third alternative to provide a partial answer, in response to a request from Leigh Brown, a candidate for a special election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The requestor asked whether proposed radio advertisements would constitute electioneering communications.

Extension of Time Received

  • Advisory Opinion 2018-13 (OsiaNetwork LLC) On April 10, the requestor granted an extension of time through April 30. OsiaNetwork LLC has asked has asked whether individuals’ use of their internet-enabled devices to mine cryptocurrency for the benefit of political committees is considered a volunteer activity under Commission regulations.

Enforcement

The Commission made public 11 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6766

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated; and External Referral
  • RESPONDENTS: Jesse Jackson, Jr. for Congress and Jesse Jackson, Jr., in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Sandra Jackson; Terri Jones; Vickie Pasley;; Jerome P. Rowan (previously “Unknown Person E”); Rowan International, LLC (previously “Unknown Person E’s Corporation”); Gregory B. Calhoun (previously “Unknown Person F”); and Calhoun Enterprises, Inc. (previously “Unknown Person F’s Corporation”)
  • SUBJECT: The Commission, in the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities and on the basis of a referral, initiated proceedings to determine whether the Committee and Rep. Jackson, Jr., his wife Sandra Jackson, two of his former campaign treasurers and several unnamed others violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), by diverting more than $750,000 of committee funds to pay for personal expenses and whether the respondents had filed materially false and misleading disclosure reports.
  • DISPOSITION: On December 3, 2013, the Commission found reason to believe that the Committee, Rep. Jackson, Jr., Sandra Jackson, Jones, Pasley, Unknown Person E, Unknown Person E’s Corporation, Unknown Person F, and Unknown Person F’s Corporation violated the Act. In August 2013, Rep. Jackson, Jr. and Sandra Jackson pled guilty to federal charges and were sentenced to imprisonment and financial penalties related to their conduct in this matter. After considering the circumstances of the matter, on March 5, 2019, the Commission voted to take no further action against the respondents and closed the file in light of the prison sentences served by the Jacksons, the Jacksons’ post-prison supervised release, the $750,000 Jackson, Jr. paid to the U.S. Treasury (in addition to the forfeiture of tangible assets derived from or traceable to the personal use), the restitution Sandra Jackson paid to the Internal Revenue Service, the Committee’s insolvency and the lack of ongoing Committee activity.

MURs 7001, 7002, 7003, 7009 &7455

  • COMPLAINANTS: Craig McDonald, Texans for Public Justice; Lawrence M. Noble, Campaign Legal Center; Fred Wertheimer, Democracy 21; Steven E. Schonberg; Charles Swofford; and FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Ted Cruz for Senate and Bradley S. Knippa, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Senator Rafael Edward “Ted” Cruz; and Heidi Cruz
  • SUBJECT: These matters involve allegations that the Committee and Senator Cruz violated the Act by misreporting that $1,064,000 in loans that Cruz made to his 2012 Senate campaign were funded with Cruz’s personal funds rather than through a line of credit with Citibank and a margin loan from a Goldman Sachs brokerage account that he owned jointly with his wife Heidi Cruz. In MUR 7003, the complaint alleged that the violations were knowing and willful. Additionally, the complaint in MUR 7002 alleged that Senator Cruz and the Committee knowingly accepted excessive contributions from Heidi Cruz because her ownership share of the assets in the Goldman Sachs account was used to secure the margin loan.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe the Committee violated the Act by inaccurately reporting on Schedule C that Senator Cruz used personal funds to make $1,064,000 in loans to the Committee and by omitting the required supporting Schedule C-1 identifying Goldman Sachs and Citibank as the underlying source of the loans. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to amend its disclosure reports to correctly disclose the source of loan funds at issue and to pay a civil penalty of $35,000. The Commission found no reason to believe Senator Cruz individually violated the Act because the complaints did not articulate any factual or legal basis for finding Senator Cruz personally liable for the reporting violation, and the Commission saw no basis under the facts of the case to hold the candidate individually responsible for filing accurate and complete disclosure reports. The Commission closed the file with respect to Heidi Cruz.

MUR 7122

  • COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
  • RESPONDENTS: American Pacific International Capital, Inc. (APIC); Right to Rise USA and Charles R. Spies, in his official capacity as treasurer (Right to Rise); Wilson Chen; Huaidan Chen; and Gordon Tang
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that APIC, Tang and Chen made and Right to Rise accepted prohibited foreign-national contributions totaling $1.3 million.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that (1) Right to Rise solicited a foreign national for a political contribution, (2) APIC, Tang and Huaidan Chen made and Right to Rise accepted prohibited foreign-national contributions, and (3) Wilson Chen, executive director of APIC, substantially assisted in the making of those contributions. The Commission entered into conciliation agreements providing for Right to Rise and APIC to pay civil penalties of $390,000 and $550,000, respectively. On April 12, Chair Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7341

  • COMPLAINANT: Timothy B. Belch
  • RESPONDENTS: Philip J. Law; Law for Congress and Laurie Breininger, in her official capacity as treasurer (the 2016 Committee); Law for Congress and Kristin Laney, in her official capacity as treasurer (the 2018 Committee); Laurie Jean Breininger; Beth Ann Garcia; Lynn Johnson; and John-Michael George Allaire
  • SUBJECT: The Complaint alleged that Law and his family members violated the Act by making and accepting contributions in the name of another and that Law accepted excessive contributions from family members in the form of gifts and payments of personal expenses. Law was a 2016 and 2018 candidate for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: Based on the information provided in the complaint and information provided by the respondents, the Commission found no reason to believe that the respondents violated the Act. The Commission was unable to approve a Factual and Legal Analysis by the required four affirmative votes.

MUR 7356

  • COMPLAINANT: Dean Loren
  • RESPONDENTS: Time Warner; Manhattan Neighborhood Network; and City of New York
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Time Warner, Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and the City of New York provided a prohibited contribution by broadcasting a 12-hour, get-out-the-vote marathon on November 8, 2016 that purportedly supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in furtherance of Commission priorities.

MUR 7463

  • COMPLAINANT: Matthew Graf
  • RESPONDENTS: John Fitzgerald for Congress (the Committee); and John Fitzgerald.
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Fitzgerald failed to register as a candidate, appoint an authorized committee and treasurer, and file disclosure reports. The Complaint also alleged that Fitzgerald solicited contributions through his personal PayPal account, not a committee account, which could result in personal use of campaign funds. Fitzgerald was a 2018 candidate for California’s 11th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in furtherance of Commission priorities.

MUR 7490

  • COMPLAINANT: John C. Zody
  • RESPONDENTS: Mike Braun for Indiana and Travis Kabrick, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Mike Braun
  • SUBJECT: The Complaint alleged that in April 2018, the Committee failed to timely file a 48-Hour Notice for a $250,000 loan from Senator Mike Braun, a 2018 candidate for Indiana’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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

ADR 883

  • COMPLAINANT: Campaign for Accountability
  • RESPONDENTS: Mike Crapo for US Senate and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer; Freedom Fund and Lance Kolbert, in his official capacity as treasurer; Idaho Conservative Growth Fund and Meredith Lesher, in her official capacity as treasurer; and 223 C Street, LLC, and Vicki Hart, Governor (collectively, Respondent Committees)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Respondent Committees held multiple fundraising events at a Washington, DC condominium but did not report any disbursements or in-kind contributions for the use of said condominium.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

Litigation

  • Brown et al. v. FEC (Case No. 19-01021) On April 11, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challenging the Commission’s failure to conclude that several of the Plaintiffs’ proposed communications do not qualify as electioneering communications.
  • Doe, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 18-5099). On April 12, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a Per Curiam judgment and Public Opinion affirming the opinion of the District Court that upheld the Commission’s disclosure policy as constitutional and a reasonable exercise of the agency’s administrative authority and ordered that the case be remanded for proceedings in accordance with the Appeals Court’s opinion.

Disclosure initiatives

Commission staff continue to add new features to the agency's website: fec.gov, and its legacy website, classic.fec.gov.

Beta FEC Notify

The FEC is launching a beta version of a new feature called FEC Notify, an application that allows members of the public to subscribe and be notified by email of new and amended electronic reports and filings submitted to the agency by filers, including authorized committees of federal candidates, political party committees, and political action committees. To help identify potential issues and suggest improvements to the beta version of this application, the Commission encourages members of the public to sign-up for an account, subscribe to filers, and submit comments to press@fec.gov. The Commission will rely on user feedback to inform future updates and revisions.

2020 presidential and congressional maps

House and Senate and Presidential maps for the 2020 election cycle have been added to the Commission’s legacy website: classic.fec.gov.

Commissioner Statements

On April 5, Chair Weintraub issued a Statement on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia’s decision in CREW v. FEC (Case No. 18-0076).

Outreach

On April 10, Chair Weintraub participated in a panel discussion at the American Bar Association International Law Section’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Rulemakings and agency procedures

REG 2018-05 Petition for Rulemaking and Notification of Availability. The Commission is accepting public comment on the petition regarding the size of letters in disclaimers through April 15, 2019. Once the comment period has concluded, the Commission will post all public comments to its website. To submit a comment, visit the Commission’s Rulemaking Comment Entry page.

Press releases

FEC approves advisory opinion (issued April 11)

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

  • April 15, 2019: April Quarterly reports are due. For more information on quarterly reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Quarterly Reporting page of the Commission website.
  • April 20, 2019: April Monthly reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Upcoming educational programs

  • On April 24, Commission staff will host a webinar for trade associations and their PACs.
  • On May 22, Commission staff will host a webinar for political party committees.

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.

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 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.

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.