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  • Weekly Digests

Week of March 4 – 8, 2019

March 8, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

No executive sessions or open meetings were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

Request Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-04 (Prytany LLC)

On March 4, 2019, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2019-04. The requestor, Prytany LLC, asks several questions regarding whether its online contribution processing platform is permissible under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than March 14, 2019) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by April 29, 2019.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7345

  • COMPLAINANT: Rhode Island Republican State Central Committee and Brandon S. Bell
  • RESPONDENT: Providence Democratic City Committee (PDCC); and Friends of Gina Raimondo (Raimondo Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that PDCC, a local political party organization, and the Raimondo Committee, a gubernatorial campaign committee, entered into a joint fundraising agreement without complying with the Commission’s joint fundraising regulations.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe PDCC or the Raimondo Committee failed to comply with the Commission’s regulations on joint fundraising because neither has registered with the Commission as a political committee, the available information does not support a conclusion that either is a political committee, and there is no basis to conclude that either committee engaged in activity that would fall within the scope of the Commission’s joint fundraising regulations.

MUR 7404

  • COMPLAINANT: Pierre Q. Pullins
  • RESPONDENTS: Andre Carson for Congress and Timothy Moriarty, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Indianapolis Star; Indianapolis Recorder; and Radio One of Indiana
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the respondents conspired to exclude the complainant from radio interviews that included other Democratic candidates. The complaint alleged further that the respondents coordinated their news coverage to stop the complainant from raising misconduct allegations against Carson, who was a 2018 candidate for Indiana’s 7th Congressional District, and it speculated that the Committee may have paid the other respondents to do so.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the respondents violated the Act, because the Indianapolis Star, the Indianapolis Recorder and Radio One of Indiana are covered by the Act’s media exemption. That exemption excludes from the definitions of "contribution" and "expenditure" costs incurred in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcasting station, newspaper, website, magazine, or other periodical publication unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate. The Commission noted that the complainant’s allegation that the Committee conspired with and paid the media respondents was speculative and was denied by the respondents.

MUR 7408

  • COMPLAINANTS: David Kelly and Gary Gutowsky
  • RESPONDENTS: Jessica Morse for Congress and Stephen Smallcombe, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to report more than $100,000 in disbursements for a mailer. Morse was a 2018 candidate for California’s 4th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe the Committee failed to report expenditures and disbursements associated with the Committee's direct mail efforts because the available information was insufficient to support the allegation that the Committee underreported its expenditures spent on direct mail.

MUR 7419

  • COMPLAINANT: Leslie Dougher
  • RESPONDENT: Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate and Peggy Gagnon, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that printed signs advocating Nelson's candidacy were displayed near a fundraising event for Nelson in St. Augustine, Florida in May 2018. The complaint alleged that none of the signs had a disclaimer and presumed that since the signs were displayed at Nelson’s campaign event, the Committee likely had paid for or authorized the signs. Nelson was a 2018 candidate for Florida’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7453

  • COMPLAINANT: Matt Stevens
  • RESPONDENT: AJ Kern for Congress, and John Kern in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that contributions from the candidate’s husband that exceeded $200 and were reported on several Committee reports were improperly converted to unitemized contributions in the amended reports filed by the Committee. The complaint also alleged that the Committee failed to report any disbursements or in-kind contributions for Facebook posts it sponsored and that none of the disbursements on the Committee’s 2018 July Quarterly Report identified the purpose of the disbursements. Kern was a 2018 candidate for Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7458

  • COMPLAINANT: Frances Noe
  • RESPONDENT: Arizona Republican Party and Bob Lettieri, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Debbie Lesko for Congress and Ashley Ragan, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee used space at the Arizona Republican Party’s office but failed to report in-kind contributions or expenditures for such use. Lesko was a 2018 candidate for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7470

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: For Our Future and Sky Gallegos, 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 (1) file nine 48-Hour Reports totaling $336,826.36; (2) disclose disbursements totaling $3,373,551.35 on its 2016 30-Day Post-General Report; (3) file two 48-Hour Reports totaling $35,585.44; and (4) disclose debts totaling $67,548.34 on its 2016 October Quarterly Report.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $59,000.

MUR 7485

  • COMPLAINANT: Clement Tsao
  • RESPONDENTS: Steve Chabot for Congress and James Schwartz, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Steve Chabot
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that one of the Committee’s television ads failed to include a written statement that Rep. Chabot had approved the ad. Rep. Chabot was a 2018 candidate for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

Alternative dispute resolution

The Commission made public 10 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

ADR 821

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Kind for Congress Committee and Brent Smith, 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 deposited contributions totaling $581,719 in an untimely manner during the 2014 election cycle.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to certify that a representative participated in an educational program developed in consultation with the FEC's Reports Analysis Division and Information Division and pay a civil penalty of $5,800.

ADR 858

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Independence USA PAC and Howard Wolfson, 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 all financial activity on its 2016 July Monthly Report since it included $118,000 in additional in-kind contributions in an amended report filed the following month.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to take remedial steps to ensure the timely reporting of in-kind contributions, including having a representative attend a Commission webinar. The Committee also agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4,000.

ADR 877

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Arizona Republican Party and Bob Lettieri, 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 (1) misstated $942,594 in financial activity, (2) incorrectly disclosed $1,926,995 in disbursements, (3) not maintained employee logs for payroll totaling $196,606, (4) failed to file 24/48-Hour Reports for apparent independent expenditures totaling $440,735, (5) received $59,435 in prohibited contributions, (6) received $86,000 in excessive contributions, (7) misstated $33,136 in Levin Fund financial activity, (8) exceeded the limit on Levin Fund donations by $25,000, (9) incorrectly disclosed $140,000 in Levin Fund donations, (10) failed to itemize $236,754 in allocable expenditures, and (11) not properly disclosed $236,754 in transfers.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to use best efforts to perform required corrective action in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan, complete training in accordance with a Training Plan, and pay a civil penalty of $45,000.

ADR 878

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Perdue for Senate and Bradley Crate, 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 (1) received $117,265 in prohibited contributions, (2) received excessive contributions from individuals and political committees in the amounts of $245,170 and $80,500, respectively, (3) received excessive contributions totaling $271,193 that were untimely resolved or may still be resolved via a presumptive letter, and (4) failed to disclose $128,972 in debts and obligations.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to perform required corrective action in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan, complete training in accordance with a Training Plan, and pay a civil penalty of $30,000.

ADR 879

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Michigan Democratic State Central Committee and Sandy O’Brien, 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 (1) misstated $116,615 in financial activity, (2) not maintained employee logs for payroll totaling $1,601,987, (3) failed to provide the necessary records for $20,803 in expenditures, and (4) exceeded its coordinated spending limit by $3,333.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to perform required corrective action in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan, complete training in accordance with a Training Plan, and pay a civil penalty of $7,750.

ADR 880

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Massachusetts Democratic State Committee and Paul Yorkis, 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 $267,410 in debts and obligations.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to perform required corrective action in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan, complete training in accordance with a Training Plan, and pay a civil penalty of $7,050.

ADR 881

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Democratic Party of South Carolina and Velva George, 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 (1) received $16,925 in prohibited contributions, (2) misstated $100,000 in financial activity, and (3) failed to maintain monthly payroll logs totaling $538,853.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to perform required corrective action in accordance with a Corrective Action Plan, complete training in accordance with a Training Plan, and pay a civil penalty of $9,000.

ADR 882

  • COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
  • RESPONDENT: Democratic Party of Arkansas and Dawne Vandiver, 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 (1) received $6,500 in prohibited contributions, (2) failed to disclose $336,445 in debts and obligations, (3) failed to itemize $35,000 in contributions from other political committees, and (4) failed to disclose necessary information for disbursements related to federal election activity and coordinated party expenditures in the amount of $881,631, as well as payroll expenses in the amount of $104,501.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to complete training in accordance with a Training Plan and pay a civil penalty of $7,900.

ADR 884

  • COMPLAINANT: Howard Morris
  • RESPONDENT: Kaisar Ahmed for US Congress and Kaisar Ahmed, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to properly file reports and disclose financial activity. Ahmed was a 2016 and 2018 candidate for California's 31st Congressional District.
  • DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to participate in a one-on-one training regarding best practices, disclaimers, and reporting requirements scheduled with the Information Division and/or Reports Analysis Division, file reports disclosing all campaign activity for the 2018 election cycle, and continue to file disclosure reports until a termination report is approved.

ADR 885

  • COMPLAINANT: Matthew Anderson
  • RESPONDENT: Sinema for Arizona and Cynthia Leigh Applebaum, in her official capacity as treasurer
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee violated the Commission's best efforts rules that require committees and their treasurers to obtain, maintain, and report the name, address, occupation and employer of each contributor who gives more than $200 in an election cycle. Sinema was a 2018 candidate for Arizona’s United States Senate seat.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter. The Commission observed that there was no indication that the Committee falsified reports or knowingly failed to disclose employment information.

Administrative fines

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

AF 3373

McSally for Congress and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $5,028.

Rulemakings and agency operations

Outreach

  • On March 6, Vice Chairman Matthew S. Petersen addressed an election law class at Brigham Young University.

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

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

The Commission has posted the filing deadlines for the North Carolina 3rd Congressional District Special Election. For information on reporting dates for this election, refer to the Special Election Report Notice.

Upcoming educational programs

  • On March 13, Commission staff will host Candidate 101: Getting Started, a webinar for first-time candidates and potential candidates, as well as their campaign staff.
  • On March 27, Commission staff will host a compliance webinar for membership and labor organizations and their PACs.
  • On April 3, Commission staff will host a FECFile webinar for candidate 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.