Commission meetings and hearings
On November 9, the Commission met in executive session.
Advisory Opinion 2021-10 (Retail Benefits, Inc.) On November 10, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Retail Benefits, Inc. (RBI), which provides customized software for organizations to use in offering loyalty programs to their customers and supporters. RBI proposed to provide a similar service to political committees to use for fundraising purposes. The Commission concluded that RBI’s proposal is permissible under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations, and that RBI’s proposed activities will not subject RBI to reporting requirements under the Act or Commission regulations.
Advisory Opinion Request 2021-13 (Matthew Hoh) On November 12, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2021-13. The requestor intends to run for U.S. Senate in the 2022 election cycle. Hoh is a combat veteran who receives disability compensation from the Veterans Administration. Hoh asks whether his disability compensation constitutes “earned income” for purposes of the Commission’s candidate salary regulation at 11 C.F.R. § 113.1(g)(1)(i)(I). The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than November 22, 2021) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by January 11, 2022.
Advisory Opinion 2021-12 (Congressman Adam Schiff and Schiff for Congress) On November 10, the Commission voted on two drafts of an advisory opinion in response to a request from Congressman Adam Schiff and Schiff for Congress (the Committee), in which Schiff and the Committee presented alternative proposals for renting the Committee’s email list in connection with promoting a book written by Schiff. Neither draft garnered the four votes necessary for approval and the Commission asked the Office of General Counsel to prepare a third draft based on the discussion at the table. During the discussion, the Commission heard from Counsel for the Requestor.
Draft Advisory Opinion 2021-11 (DSCC and DCCC). On November 10, the Commission held over discussion of Advisory Opinion Request 2021-11, concerning use of short code text messages by political committees, to a future open meeting.
The Commission made public four closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
COMPLAINANT: End Citizens United
RESPONDENTS: NRCC and Keith A. Davis, in his official capacity as treasurer (NRCC); Balderson for Congress and Matthew J. Yuskewich, in his official capacity as treasurer (Balderson Committee); and Troy Balderson
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the NRCC and the Balderson Committee improperly allocated the cost of a $355,000 television ad on behalf of Balderson, a 2018 candidate for Ohio’s 12th Congressional District. The complaint alleged that the ad did not qualify as a “hybrid” communication, which would permit an allocation of the cost of the ad, because it did not contain a “generic party reference.” As a result, the complaint alleged that the NRCC’s payment for half of the cost of the ad resulted in the NRCC making and the Balderson Committee knowingly accepting an excessive contribution.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Vice Chair Allen Dickerson and Commissioners Sean J. Cooksey and James E. “Trey” Trainor III issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: John Fogle
RESPONDENTS: NRCC and Keith A. Davis, in his official capacity as treasurer (NRCC); Balderson for Congress and Matthew J. Yuskewich, in his official capacity as treasurer (Balderson Committee); Troy Balderson; Rodney for Congress and Thomas Datwyler, in his official capacity as treasurer; Rodney Davis; Friends of Hagedorn and Thomas Datwyler, in his official capacity as treasurer; James Hagedorn; Claudia Tenney for Congress and Cabell Hobbs, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Claudia Tenney
SUBJECT: Prior to the 2018 elections, the NRCC and the candidate committees named in the complaint aired television ads that clearly identified one or more of the candidates and opposed the stances of “Washington liberals,” “liberals in DC,” or “liberal elites.” The complaint alleged that the NRCC improperly allocated the costs of these ads in a 50/50 percentage with the candidate committees because the NRCC did not receive a party-wide benefit, resulting in the NRCC making and the candidate committees accepting excessive contributions.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Vice Chair Dickerson and Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Sean E. Lester
RESPONDENTS: Brooks for Senate and Dr. LaQuilla Nabors, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Natisha Brooks; Carmen Stephens; Jaden Falls; Tonoa Foster-Freeman
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Brooks, a 2020 candidate for Tennessee’s U.S. Senate seat, and campaign staffers Falls and Foster-Freeman received and used campaign contributions that they failed to timely forward to the then-treasurer. The complaint also alleged that the Committee failed to accurately and timely disclose receipts and disbursements, including $2,500 in contributions raised by students at Brooks’s home-school institute, and disbursements totaling $3,500 made to an automobile rental company. The complaint further alleged that Brooks “falsely impersonated a federal campaign” by hiring Stephens as her campaign’s webmaster, revising the campaign’s website, and establishing a new PayPal account for the campaign in July 2020 because she did not get permission from her campaign’s then-treasurer.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint. The Commission observed technical nature of the allegations and the relatively low dollar amount at issue.
COMPLAINANT: Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association
RESPONDENTS: Willie Wilson 2020 and Nicole Janes, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Willie Wilson
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to report any disbursements on its 2019 Year End Report and 2020 April Quarterly Report and reported only one disbursement on its 2020 July Quarterly Report, despite the fact that the Committee was actively campaigning during this time by producing ads with a disclaimer stating that they were paid for by the Committee, registering a domain name and developing a website, seeking endorsements, and issuing statements through a paid spokesperson. The complaint also alleged that the Committee failed to continuously report three loans from Wilson, a 2020 candidate for Illinois’s U.S. Senate seat. Further, the complaint alleged that the Committee failed to report a $10,000 donation to a church.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint. The Commission observed that the amounts at issue were modest.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Commission made public one closed case, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
RESPONDENT: Texas Organizing Project Political Action Committee and Steven Halvorson, in official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of exercising its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe the Committee failed to disclosed $353,611 in additional receipts on its original 2020 30-Day Post-General Report.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to 1) retain an outside consultant to review its compliance procedures and conduct an on-site training with those responsible for preparing and filing its reports; and 2) pay a civil penalty of $8,350.
The Commission made public one closed case, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Administrative Fine search system.
AF 4034 Nicholas Jones for Congress and Nicholas Jones, in official capacity as treasurer. The Commission voted to terminate the proceedings and close the file.
Campaign Legal Center v. FEC (Case No. 20-0809). On November 8, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order, granting Plaintiff’s renewed motion for default judgment and ordering the Commission to act on the administrative complaint at issue within 30 days. The Court also awarded $400 in requested court costs to the Plaintiff.
Draft Final Audit Report of the Audit Division on Mike Braun for Indiana. On November 10, the Commission held an audit hearing on proposed findings in the Draft Final Audit Report on Mike Braun for Indiana.
On November 5, the Office of the Inspector General made public the Federal Election Commission Independent Auditor’s Report on the Compliance with the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act of 2014. On November 10, the Office of the Inspector General made public a report on Management and Performance Challenges Facing the FEC for FY 2022.
On November 8, Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub spoke to students at Harvard Law School about campaign finance law, the work of the Commission, and careers in public service.
Upcoming educational programs
November 16-17, 2021: The Commission will host a Virtual Conference online via Zoom.
December 1, 2021: The Commission will host an FECConnect On Topic session on How to Contact Your Committee’s Analyst.
December 8, 2021: The Commission will host a webinar for nonconnected PACs.
For more information on upcoming training opportunities, see the Commission’s Trainings page.
Upcoming Commission meetings
December 2, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
December 14, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
Upcoming reporting due dates
November 20: November Monthly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2021 Monthly Reporting schedule.
Status of agency operations
See the Commission’s statement on the status of agency operations, updated on April 15, 2021. At this stage, most agency staff remain in telework status and the Commission’s office remains closed to visitors. See also the agency’s Workplace Safety Plan, dated May 6, 2021.
Additional research materials
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.
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 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 currently. The use of the agency’s logo, name, and likeness on other media has not been authorized by the FEC.