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  • Weekly Digests

Week of January 28 – February 1, 2019

February 1, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

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

On January 28, the Requestor granted an Extension of Time for 30 days following the Commission’s resumption of operations after the lapse in appropriations, that is, February 27. 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.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-13 (OsiaNetwork LLC)

On December 24, 2018, the Requestor granted an Extension of Time for 30 days following the Commission’s resumption of operations after the lapse in appropriations, that is, February 27. 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.

Enforcement

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

· MUR 6721

  • COMPLAINANTS: Scott Randolph and Orange County Democratic Party (FL)
  • RESPONDENTS: Beth Steele and Women Advocating Respect (WAR); Todd Long for Congress and Todd Long, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Todd Long
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that WAR failed to file reports of independent expenditures (IEs) that it made in the form of robocalls that expressly advocated the defeat of Rep. Alan Grayson in the 2012 election in Florida. Also at issue was whether the robocalls contained a complete and accurate disclaimer.
  • DISPOSITION: On December 3, 2013, the Commission found reason to believe Beth Steele and WAR failed to file the required 24-hour report after making IEs in excess of $1,000 less than 20 days prior to the 2012 general election, and also did not include a proper disclaimer on the robocalls that it made. On October 21, 2014, the Commission voted to name Todd Long for Congress and Todd Long as additional respondents based on information that the expenditures at issue may not have been independent, but instead coordinated expenditures, authorized by Long, a 2012 candidate for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. On August 13, 2015, the Commission found reason to believe Long and the Committee authorized a coordinated communication and failed to include a proper disclaimer on the robocalls at issue. On November 26, 2018, the Commission voted to take no further action against the respondents and closed the file.

MUR 6848

  • COMPLAINANTS: Jesus A. Garcia
  • RESPONDENTS: Friends of George Demos and Robert Cole, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); George Demos; Angelo Tsakopoulos; Chrysanthy T. Demos; and AKT Development Corporation (AKT)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that George Demos had insufficient personal assets to fund loans that he reported making to the Committee and alleged that he had obtained the funds for the loans from his father-in-law, Angelo Tsakopoulos, and his company AKT. George Demos was a 2014 primary candidate for New York’s 1st Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: On June 17, 2016, the Commission found reason to believe Tsakopoulos made, and Demos and the Committee accepted, an excessive contribution. The Commission authorized an investigation, which determined that Demos did not have the personal funds necessary to make the $2.5 million in loans to his campaign and instead used funds belonging to his wife (and Tsakopoulos’s daughter), Chrysanthy T. Demos. On July 17, 2018, the Commission found reason to believe Chrysanthy Demos made an excessive contribution. The Commission found no reason to believe AKT violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), or Commission regulations, and it voted to take no further action in connection with Tsakopoulos. On November 15, 2018, the Commission voted to close the file. On February 1, Chair Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7415

  • COMPLAINANT: Christopher William Hisgen
  • RESPONDENTS: Tarkanian for Congress and Christie Hastie, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Danny Tarkanian; Tarkanian Basketball Academy; and JAMP LLC
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that acting through JAMD LLC and Tarkanian, Tarkanian Basketball Academy, made a loan to the Committee in the name of another.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission observed that the statute of limitations for the imposition of civil monetary penalties had expired before the complaint was filed.

MUR 7518

  • COMPLAINANT: Rebecca L. Yardley
  • RESPONDENT: Campaign to Elect Josh McCall and Tiffany Potter, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee’s yard signs and one newspaper ad failed to include the required “paid for” disclaimer.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities. The Commission noted the remedial actions taken by the Committee and the unlikeliness that the general public would have been confused as to who was responsible for the newspaper ad.

Administrative Fines

  • On December 21, 2018, President Donald J. Trump signed HR 7120 into law, extending the Administrative Fines Program until the period covered in the 2023 Year-End reports. For more information on closed administrative fine cases, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

Litigation

  • CREW, et al. v. FEC (No. 17-2770). On December 27, 2018, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order granting the Commission’s motion to dismiss. The Commission’s separate motion for judgment on the pleadings was denied as moot.
  • FEC v. Rivera (No. 17-22643). On January 4, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a paperless order granting the Commission’s motion to reopen the case and for leave to file an amended complaint. On January 15, the Commission filed an Amended Complaint.

Regulations and agency operations

  • REG 2014-02 Independent Expenditures by Authorized Committees; Reporting Multistate Independent Expenditures and Electioneering Communications. On December 27, 2018, the Final Rules were published in the Federal Register.
  • REG 2016-01 Procedures for Public Comment on Draft AOs. On January 31, in light of the recent partial government shutdown, the Commission voted to extend the comment period on the Notification of Availability (NOA) for the Rulemaking Petition: Advisory Opinion Procedures to March 4. The NOA sought comment on whether to begin a rulemaking to establish specific time periods for the submission of public comments on drafts of advisory opinions.
  • REG 2018-03 Definition of Contribution. On January 31, in light of the recent partial government shutdown, the Commission voted to extend the comment period on the Notification of Availability for the Rulemaking Petition: Definition of Contribution, to March 4. The NOA sought comment on whether to begin a rulemaking to revise its regulations defining the term “contribution” in connection with a recent district court decision in Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington v. Federal Election Commission.
  • REG 2018-07 Civil Monetary Penalties Annual Inflation Adjustments 2019. On December 27, 2018, the Commission’s Final Rules to adjust its civil monetary penalty amounts for inflation for 2019 were published in the Federal Register. The Commission determined these amounts through a statutory formula, which applies the most recent “cost-of-living adjustment multiplier,” issued by the Office of Management and Budget each December, to the current amounts. The amended civil monetary penalties took effect as of the publication date.

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

  • February 5 and 7, 2019: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
  • February 7, 2019: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Upcoming reporting due dates

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

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.