Week of July 25-29, 2022
Commission meetings and hearings
On July 26 and 28, the Commission met in executive session.
On July 28, the Commission held an open meeting.
Advisory Opinion 2022-06 (Hispanic Leadership Trust) On July 28, the Commission approved Advisory Opinion 2022-06 in response to a request from Hispanic Leadership Trust (HLT). The Commission concluded that under the facts presented in the request and supplemental information, HLT would not be a leadership PAC of either the proposed chair or proposed vice chair or Members of Congress on its board of directors, nor would it be affiliated with existing leadership PACs of those individuals, under the draft bylaws’ Alternative C, assuming that no Member of Congress or current candidate for federal office represents more than 33 percent of the seats required for a quorum of HLT’s board of directors. During the discussion, the Commission heard from counsel for the requestor. On July 25, the requestor submitted a comment, and on July 27, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC and CHC BOLD PAC submitted a comment on Draft B and the requestor submitted supplemental information.
Advisory Opinion 2022-07 (Swalwell) On July 25, the Commission approved by tally vote Advisory Opinion 2022-07 in response to a request from Congressman Eric Swalwell and Swalwell for Congress, his principal campaign committee. The Commission concluded that Congressman Swalwell may use campaign funds to pay overnight childcare expenses that he will incur when he travels for his own campaign and his spouse is not available to care for their children. The Commission did not approve a response by the required four affirmative votes as to whether Congressman Swalwell may use campaign funds to pay childcare expenses incurred when he travels for other campaigns or at the request of foreign governments or other entities.
Advisory Opinion 2022-10 (Sprinkle) On July 28, the Commission approved Advisory Opinion 2022-10 in response to a request from Platform Venture Studio Inc. doing business as Sprinkle. The Commission concluded that under the circumstances presented in the request, Sprinkle’s provision of contribution processing services to contributors would not result in prohibited contributions by Sprinkle, and that Sprinkle’s proposed use of Commission data to supplement its services to contributors was permissible. On July 28, Elias Law Group LLP submitted a comment on the draft advisory opinion.
Advisory Opinion Request 2022-14 (Google LLC) This week, the Commission received additional public comments on the advisory opinion request. The requestor asks whether it may provide a free and non-partisan pilot program to test certain design features in its email product to authorized candidate committees, political party committees, and leadership political action committees. The Commission has approved an extension of the public comment period to August 5, 2022.
Advisory Opinion Request 2022-17 (Warren Democrats) On July 25, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from Warren Democrats. The requestor asks whether it may pay for reasonable cybersecurity measures to protect Senator Elizabeth Warren’s home network, which connects to her electronic devices and the devices of other members of her household. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than August 4) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by September 13, 2022.
Advisory Opinion Request 2022-18 (Fleming, et al.) On July 28, the Commission made public an advisory opinion request from Bridget Fleming for Congress, Jackie Gordon for Congress, Conole for Congress, and Max Rose for Congress. The requestors are authorized committees of candidates in the August 2022 Democratic primary for the U.S. House of Representatives in New York. The requestors propose to ask contributors to redesignate for the primary election certain contributions that originally had been designated for the general election, without regard to the 60-day timeframe for redesignating contributions, in light of the Commission’s recent conclusion in Advisory Opinion 2022-08 (NRCC) that a separate contribution limit applies to the rescheduled primary election. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than August 8) and must issue a response no later than 20 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by August 15, 2022.
The Commission made public five closed cases and one additional Statement of Reasons, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
COMPLAINANT: Lavora Barnes, Michigan Democratic Party Chair
RESPONDENTS: John James; and John James for Senate and Timothy Caughlin, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that James and the Committee violated the so-called “soft money” ban of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act) when it leaked an internal campaign memorandum to a news outlet that solicited and directed spending by 501(c) non-profit corporations on television advertising. James was a 2020 candidate for Michigan’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission dismissed the allegation that the respondents solicited or directed non-federal funds because there was no available information to substantiate the allegation. Chairman Allen Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey and James E. “Trey” Trainor, III issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Scotty Robinson
RESPONDENTS: Letlow for Congress and Scott Franklin, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Luke Letlow (deceased); and Bill Hogan
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee and Hogan, a Letlow supporter, suggested that Robinson, Letlow’s 2020 primary election opponent, drop out of the race in exchange for money to pay off expenses and debt. Letlow was a 2020 candidate for Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents made or solicited an excessive contribution to Robinson because while the record raised factual questions as to whether the respondents offered Robinson or his committee money to withdraw from an election in which he was a candidate, Robinson stated that he denied the offer and thus did not receive any funds. The Commission further noted that an unsolicited, rejected offer of an excessive contribution is not directly prohibited by the Act’s provisions governing contribution amount limitations or soft money.
COMPLAINANT: Campaign Legal Center Action
RESPONDENTS: NRA Victory Fund, Inc., and Robert Owens, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to report employer and occupation information for individual contributions during the 2020 election cycle.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Vice Chair Steven T. Walther and Commissioners Shana M. Broussard and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.
RESPONDENTS: Black Americans for a Better Future and Chris Marston, in his official capacity as Treasurer (the Committee); Mensah Real Estate Property LLC (Mensah Real Estate); and Stephen Cannon
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether the Committee failed to complete and file accurate reports in connection with unauthorized disbursements made to two recipients, Mensah Real Estate and Cannon, totaling $57,666.67 in the 2018 election cycle.
DISPOSITION: On April 15, 2021, the Commission found reason to believe Mensah Real Estate and Cannon knowingly and willfully misappropriated and commingled funds of the Committee with their own funds and authorized an investigation, and it voted to take no action at the time against the Committee. Both Mensah Real Estate and Cannon were, however, impossible to locate and on June 22, 2022, the Commission voted to take no further action against either and closed the file as to all respondents in the matter.
COMPLAINANT: Crystal Rhoades
RESPONDENTS: Nebraska Democratic Party and Ted Kessler, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee improperly used non-federal funds to pay a portion of the salaries of certain employees during the 2020 election cycle and raised questions as to whether the Committee failed to report coordinated party expenditures and in-kind contributions and whether it made excessive contributions to two federal committees, Eastman for Congress and Biden for President.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Chairman Dickerson and Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.
MURs 7826 and 7862 (Iowa Democratic Party and Ken Sagar, in his official capacity as treasurer; Theresa Greenfield for Iowa and Theresa Kehoe, in her official capacity as treasurer; and Rita Hart for Iowa and Sheila Spickermann, in her official capacity as treasurer) On July 28, Chairman Dickerson, Vice Chair Walther, and Commissioners Broussard, Cooksey, Trainor, and Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.
Resubmission - Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Kentucky State Democratic Central Executive Committee On July 28, the Commission approved two findings in the Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Kentucky State Democratic Central Executive Committee, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. The approved findings relate to misstatement of financial activity and recordkeeping for employees. The Commission did not approve by the required four affirmative votes proposed findings related to excessive coordinated party expenditures, receipt of contributions in excess of the limit, and failure to file a 24-hour report. The proposed findings will be placed in the Additional Issues section of the Final Audit Report of the Commission.
Resubmission - Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Democratic Party of Arkansas On July 28, the Commission approved three findings in the Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on the Democratic Party of Arkansas, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. The approved findings relate to reporting of debts and obligations, recordkeeping for employees, and disclosure of loans and loan repayments. The Commission did not approve by the required four affirmative votes a proposed finding related to reporting of media related expenditures. The proposed finding will be placed in the Additional Issues section of the Final Audit Report of the Commission.
Proposed Final Audit Report on the Association for Emergency Responders and Firefighters, PAC On July 28, the Commission approved the Proposed Final Audit Report of the Commission on the Association for Emergency Responders and Firefighters, PAC, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. The Commission approved a finding related to increased spending (corrected) and included recordkeeping for disbursements and use of designated depository in the Additional Issues section.
Proposed Final Audit Report on the US Veterans Assistance Foundation, PAC On July 28, the Commission approved the Proposed Final Audit Report on the US Veterans Assistance Foundation, PAC, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018. The Commission approved findings related to misstatement of financial activity, increased activity, disclosure of occupation and name of employer, and failure to file.
Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case Nos. 22-5140, 22-5167) On July 25, Plaintiff-Appellee Campaign Legal Center filed a Reply in Support of its Motion for Summary Affirmance and Dismissal for Lack of Appellate Jurisdiction in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case Nos. 22-5164, 22-5165) On July 25, Plaintiff-Appellee Campaign Legal Center filed a Motion for Summary Affirmance and Dismissal for Lack of Appellate Jurisdiction and on July 28, Movant-Appellant 45Committee, Inc. filed a Reply in Support of Appellant’s Opposed Motion to Hold Appeals in Abeyance in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
FEC v. Defend Louisiana PAC, et al. (Case No. 21-cv-346) On July 22, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana issued a Ruling and Order, granting the Commission’s Motion for Default Judgment. The court ordered Defend Louisiana PAC and Taylor Townsend, in his official capacity as treasurer (Defend Louisiana PAC), 1) to pay a civil penalty of $41,056 for violations of the Act; 2) to correct Defend Louisiana PAC’s November 28, 2016 Pre-Runoff Report by providing adequate purpose statements for the eight independent expenditures designated as “Community Outreach;” and 3) to correct Defend Louisiana PAC’s January 9, 2017 Post-Runoff Report to include the three independent expenditures listed in Defend Louisiana PAC’s December 12, 2016 48-Hour Report of independent expenditures.
Heritage Action for America v. FEC, et al. (Case No. 22-1422) On July 22, the Commission filed a Motion to Dismiss with Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of its Motion to Dismiss in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
Stein, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 21-1213) On July 28, the Commission filed a Brief in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
On July 27, the Commission hosted an FECConnect OnTopic session on when to file 48- and 24-Hour Reports for independent expenditures.
FEC approves advisory opinion (issued July 26)
FEC approves two advisory opinions and four audit reports, honors retiring Vice Chair Steven T. Walther for 16 years of service to the Commission (issued July 28)
Upcoming Commission meetings
August 9, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
August 11, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
August 30, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
August 31, 2022: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
Upcoming educational programs
September 7, 2022: The Commission will host a webinar on Independent Expenditures and Pre-Election Communications.
September 14, 2022: The Commission will host an FECConnect OnTopic session on navigating the website.
For more information on upcoming training opportunities, see the Commission’s Trainings page.
Upcoming reporting due dates
August 20: August Monthly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2022 Monthly Reporting schedule.
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.