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  • Weekly Digests

Week of December 10 – December 14, 2018

December 14, 2018

Commission meetings and hearings

On December 13, the Commission held an open meeting and met in executive session.

2019 officers

On December 13, the Commission elected Ellen L. Weintraub as Chair and Matthew S. Petersen as Vice Chairman.

Advisory Opinions

Advisory Opinion 2018-12 (Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc.)

On December 13, the Commission held over discussion of Advisory Opinion Request 2018-12. Defending Digital Campaigns, Inc. has asked whether it or its private sector sponsors and partners may provide candidate and political party committees with certain free resources and training to protect those committees from cyberattack. The Requestor has granted an Extension of Time until January 31.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-13 (OsiaNetwork LLC)

On December 11, the Commission received a comment on a draft advisory opinion. On December 13, the Commission held over discussion of the request. OsiaNetwork LLC has asked whether individuals’ use of the processing power of their internet-enabled devices to mine cryptocurrency for the benefit of political committees is considered a volunteer activity under Commission regulations.

Advisory Opinion 2018-15 (Wyden)

On December 13, the Commission approved Advisory Opinion 2018-15 in response to a request from Senator Ron Wyden, concluding that Members of Congress may use campaign funds for cybersecurity-related expenses for their personal electronic devices and accounts without such payments constituting an impermissible conversion of campaign funds to personal use, under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7275

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Conservative Campaign Committee and Kelly Lawler, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether the Committee failed to properly disclose an aggregate of $270,210 in independent expenditures (IEs) it had made in the 2012 election cycle, and whether it had failed to timely file 24-Hour Reports of IEs totaling $12,302 and failed to file any reports for IEs totaling $3,774.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe the Committee had failed to properly disclose IEs totaling $286,286. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $21,000.

MUR 7329

  • COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center
  • RESPONDENT: VIGOP (Virgin Islands Republican Party) and Scott B. Mackenzie, in his official capacity as treasurer
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke appeared at a fundraiser in March 2017 benefiting the Committee, and while the Committee disclosed disbursements related to the event, the complaint questioned whether the Committee had failed to disclose contributions collected at the event to its federal account.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

MUR 7381

  • COMPLAINANT: Jo Anne DeVries
  • RESPONDENTS: Rick Scott for Florida and Salvatore Purpura, in his official capacity treasurer (the Committee); and Rick Scott
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Scott became a candidate in late March 2018 therefore the Committee was required to file a 2018 April Quarterly Report. Scott was a 2018 candidate for Florida’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7434

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Gary Johnson Victory Fund and Christina Needham, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether the Committee had failed to disclose an aggregate total of $899,400.01 in increased activity on its 2016 October Quarterly Report. The Committee is a joint fundraising committee comprised of Gary Johnson 2016, the principal campaign committee of Gary Johnson’s presidential campaign, and 24 Libertarian state party committees.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe the Committee failed to timely disclose its financial activity. The Committee entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $17,250.

MUR 7446

  • COMPLAINANT: Paul Mueller
  • RESPONDENT: Dowling for Congress and Lysa Ray, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to file its 2018 July Quarterly Report. Dowling for Congress is the principal campaign committee of Sandra Dowling, a 2018 candidate for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission noted there were no available facts showing that the Committee was required to file the 2018 July Quarterly Report and that the Committee maintained that it had not yet passed the reporting threshold when the report was due.

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 874

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENTS: Restore American Freedom and Liberty and Alexander Hornaday, 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 the Committee had failed to disclose $64,958.07 in disbursements on its original 2016 October Quarterly Report.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) to perform an annual internal audit and reconciliation, 2) certify to the Commission that such an audit and reconciliation was performed, and 3) pay a civil penalty of $2,650.

Administrative Fines

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

AF 3397

U.A. Plumbers & Steamfitters Local No. 22 P.A.C., Inc. and Sean P. Redden, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $667.

AF 3460

Jon Powell for Congress and Doug Blanchard, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

Rulemaking and agency procedures

Draft Final Rule and Explanation and Justification for REG 2014-02 (Multistate IEs)

On December 13, the Commission approved the Final Rule and Explanation and Justification to address reporting of independent expenditures and electioneering communications that relate to presidential primary elections and are publicly distributed in multiple states but do not refer to any particular state’s primary election.

REG 2011-02, Internet Communication Disclaimers.

On December 13, Chair Caroline C. Hunter sent a letter to Professor Young Mie Kim of the University of Wisconsin-Madison requesting clarification of certain information provided by her to the Commission in connection with the Rulemaking on Internet Communication Disclaimers, which concerns disclaimers on public communications on the internet that contain express advocacy, solicit contributions, or are made by political committees.

Legislative recommendations

2018 Legislative Recommendations

On December 13, the Commission unanimously approved 11 legislative recommendations for 2018 to be submitted for consideration to Congress: (1) Electronic Filing of Electioneering Communication Reports; (2) Authority to Create Senior Executive Service Positions; (3) Prohibit Fraudulent PAC Practices; (4) Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Campaign Authority; (5) Conversion of Campaign Funds; (6) Prohibit Aiding or Abetting the Making of Contributions in Name of Another; (7) Increase and Index for Inflation Registration and Reporting Thresholds; (8) Increase the In-Home Event Exemption and Unreimbursed Travel Expense Exemption for Candidates and Political Parties; (9) Permit Political Committees to Make Disbursements by Methods Other than Check; (10) Update Citations to Reflect the Recodification of FECA; and (11) Repeal the Convention Funding Provisions Rendered Non-Operational by the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.

Fiscal Year 2020 budget amendment request

On December 13, the Commission discussed but was unable to approve by the required four affirmative votes a budget amendment request in connection with cost savings that occurred as a result of the passage of a new filing provision that requires U.S. Senate candidates and committees to submit reports to the Commission.

2019 meeting dates

  • On December 13, the Commission approved an initial schedule of meeting dates for the first half of 2019.

Press Releases

Outreach

Between December 9 and 12, Vice Chair Weintraub and several Commission staff members attended and served as presenters in Philadelphia, PA, at the annual conference of the Council of Governmental Ethics Laws (COGEL), a professional organization for government agencies, organizations, and individuals with responsibilities in governmental ethics, elections, campaign finance, lobbying laws and freedom of information.

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

Upcoming educational programs

  • On January 16 and 23, 2019, the Commission is scheduled to host reporting webinars for candidates, PACs, and party committees.

Upcoming reporting due dates

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 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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