Week of October 11-15, 2021
Commission meetings and hearings
On October 13 and 14, the Commission met in executive session.
The Commission voted to cancel the open meeting scheduled for October 14.
The Commission made public seven closed cases, one additional Statement of Reasons, and three additional Supplemental Statements of Reasons, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
COMPLAINANTS: Campaign Legal Center and Sandhya Bathija
RESPONDENTS: Highway 31 and Edward Still, in his official capacity as treasurer (Highway 31); Senate Majority PAC and Rebecca Lambe, in her official capacity as treasurer (SMP); Priorities USA Action and Greg Speed, in his official capacity as treasurer (Priorities); Bully Pulpit Interactive; Waterfront Strategies; Putnam Partners; Nutt Labs; ZUUR; and Denise Nelson Voiceovers
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Highway 31, an independent expenditure-only committee, failed to disclose contributions that it received, despite making independent expenditures totaling over $4 million in connection with the 2017 Alabama Special Senate General Election, including $1 million of independent expenditures prior to its first regularly scheduled report. The complaint further alleged that either Highway 31’s media vendors made contributions to Highway 31 in the form of extensions of credit that were not consistent with their typical business practices, or Highway 31’s largest, later-disclosed contributor, SMP, made contributions by guaranteeing Highway 31’s debts to the vendors. The complaint also alleged that Highway 31 failed to properly report its disbursements to the vendors to pay these debts and that it misidentified a contributor in one of its reports. Finally, the complaint alleged that Priorities failed to report contributions made to Highway 31.
DISPOSITION: On July 25, 2019, the Commission found reason to believe that Highway 31 violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), by failing to report contributions in the form of extensions of credit from its vendors. The Commission found no reason to believe that Bully Pulpit Interactive, Waterfront Strategies, Denise Nelson Voiceovers, Nutt Labs, Putnam Partners, or ZUUR violated the Act and closed the file with respect to these respondents. The Commission observed that the vendors appear to have been permitted to make contributions to independent expenditure-only committees, had no independent reporting obligation for making the contributions, and did not appear to have otherwise violated any provision of the Act. The Commission voted to take no action with respect to the allegation that Highway 31 and SMP violated the Act by failing to accurately report contributions in the form of a guarantee by SMP for Highway 31's debts. The Commission further voted to dismiss the allegation that Highway 31 violated the Act by misreporting the identity of a contributor and directed Highway 31 to work with the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division to amend its reports. The Commission found no reason to believe that Priorities USA Action violated the Act and it closed the file, observing that Highway 3l admitted that it incorrectly identified Priorities USA Action as making two contributions and stated that the correct contributor was a related entity, Priorities USA. The Commission found no reason to believe that Highway 31 failed to properly report debts, obligations, and disbursements, observing that the available information indicated that Highway 31 properly reported its independent expenditures timely and also reported debts correctly. On September 2, 2021, the Commission voted to take no further action with respect to SMP and Highway 31 and closed the file.
COMPLAINANT: Greg Bailor
RESPONDENTS: Rosen for Nevada and Steven Mele, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Jacky Rosen; Perkins Coie LLP (Perkins Coie); and Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman & Rabkin, LLP (Wolf Rifkin)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that law firms Perkins Coie and Wolf Rifkin made excessive and unreported in-kind contributions to Rosen, a 2016 candidate for Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District, and the Committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that Perkins Coie or Wolf Rifkin violated the Act by making excessive in-kind contributions. The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that Rosen and the Committee knowingly accepted and failed to report excessive in-kind contributions. The Commission observed that both law firms were paid for their services by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), via their respective segregated accounts for “legal proceedings,” and that neither law firm made in-kind contributions to the Committee. Accordingly, the Commission noted that the Committee was not required to report the payments as in-kind contributions from the law firms.
COMPLAINANT: James E. Barton, II
RESPONDENT: Community Issues Project
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Community Issues Project, a 501(c)(4) organization, made robocalls, sent mailers, and promoted social media advertisements criticizing Greg Stanton and supporting Steve Ferrara, 2018 candidates for Arizona’s 9th Congressional District, but failed to register with the Commission as a political committee, report independent expenditures, and include proper disclaimers on these communications.
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: Campaign Legal Center and Margaret Christ
RESPONDENTS: Ander PAC (f/k/a Crenshaw for Congress) and Benjamin Ottenhoff, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Ander Crenshaw
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Crenshaw, who represented Florida’s 4th Congressional District and retired in 2017, made impermissible personal use of funds contributed to his principal campaign committee, which was converted after his retirement into a multicandidate political action committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that Ander PAC and Crenshaw violated the Act’s prohibition on conversion of campaign funds to personal use and entered into a conciliation agreement providing for 1) Crenshaw to pay a civil penalty of $3,950, and 2) Ander PAC to waive its right to a refund of the disbursements made for Crenshaw’s personal use and to instruct Crenshaw to disgorge $13,196 to the U.S. Treasury.
COMPLAINANT: Americans for Public Trust
RESPONDENTS: Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, Inc. (the Action Fund); Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund and Tara Paone, in her official capacity (the Victory Fund); U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath; Friends of Lucy McBath Inc. and Kendra-Sue Derby, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Action Fund and the Victory Fund made, and McBath and the Committee accepted, in-kind contributions for McBath’s 2018 candidacy for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in the form of coordinated communications. According to the complaint, McBath was simultaneously a candidate and an employee of the Action Fund in March 2018 until McBath took leave in April 2018, the Action Fund endorsed her, and the Action Fund and the Victory Fund proceeded to spend more than $3 million supporting her campaign. The complaint further alleged that although the Action Fund and the Victory Fund reported their spending as independent expenditures, they were, in fact, coordinated with McBath based on her ties to the Action Fund.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. Vice Chair Dickerson and Commissioners Cooksey and Trainor issued a Statement of Reasons.
COMPLAINANT: Tiffany Muller, End Citizens United
RESPONDENTS: Darrell Issa for Congress and Jen Slater, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Darrell Issa
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged Issa and the Committee sent an email invitation to his campaign mailing list for a fundraiser to benefit the Republican Party of San Diego County and various local candidates, but that the invitation did not indicate that contributions were limited to amounts and from sources that complied with the requirements of the Act. Issa was a 2020 candidate for California’s 50th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission dismissed the allegations, observing that (1) the Committee sent additional invitations to the event that included adequate disclaimers, (2) adequate disclaimers were made at the event itself, and (3) there was no information suggesting that donations not in compliance with the Act’s source prohibitions and amount limitations were made at the event.
COMPLAINANT: Richard I. Turner
RESPONDENTS: Astrid Silva; Dream Big Nevada (DBN); Democratic National Committee and Virginia McGregor, in her official capacity as treasurer (DNC); Biden for President and Andrea Wise, in her official capacity as treasurer; Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate and Lili Snyder, in her official capacity as treasurer; Cory 2020 and Judith Zamore, in her official capacity as treasurer; Hillary for America and Elizabeth Jones, in her official capacity as treasurer; Kamala Harris for the People and John B. Emerson, in his official capacity as treasurer; People First Future and Sawyer Hackett, in his official capacity as treasurer; Warren for President, Inc. and Paul Egerman, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Win the Era PAC and Edward J. Jordanich, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Silva, a foreign national, and DBN, an organization for which Silva serves as Executive Director, violated the foreign national prohibition of the Act by providing “something of value” to numerous federal candidates, including Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Pete Buttigieg, Catherine Cortez Masto, and the DNC. Relying on news reports, the complaint claimed that Silva spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, appeared in Hillary Clinton campaign ads in October 2016, provided something of value to 2016 U.S. Senate candidate for Nevada Catherine Cortez Masto, gave the Democratic Party’s Spanish-language response to the 2017 State of the Union, and met with several other federal candidates prior to the 2020 Nevada caucuses. The complaint further alleged that Silva used DBN to campaign for and fund Democratic candidates and engage in other “electioneering” activities.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that Silva violated the foreign national prohibition of the Act by making prohibited contributions or expenditures because all of the responses asserted that Silva acted as a volunteer and there was no information to suggest that Silva had a decision-making or management role in any campaign or party committee. The Commission further found no reason to believe that DBN violated the foreign national prohibition by making prohibited contributions or expenditures, or that the DNC and the federal candidates violated the Act by soliciting or accepting contributions by a foreign national, because DBN did not appear to have engaged in any activity covered by the foreign national prohibition. Commissioner Cooksey issued a Supplemental Statement of Reasons.
MURs 7165 and 7196 Great America PAC and Dan Backer, in his official capacity as treasurer (GAP); Eric Beach; and Jesse Benton. On October 13, Vice Chair Dickerson issued a Statement of Reasons.
MURs 7443, 7447 and 7550 Twitter, Inc., et al. On October 13, Vice Chair Dickerson and Commissioner Trainor issued a Supplemental Statement of Reasons.
MURs 7812, 7825 and 7869 Facebook, Inc., et al. On October 13, Vice Chair Dickerson and Commissioner Trainor issued a Supplemental Statement of Reasons.
MUR 7807 Snap, Inc., et al. On October 13, Vice Chair Dickerson and Commissioner Trainor issued a Supplemental Statement of Reasons.
Giffords v. FEC (Case No. 19-1192) On September 30, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a Redacted Memorandum Opinion.
On October 15, Chair Shana M. Broussard and Commissioners Steven T. Walther and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement in End Citizens United PAC v. FEC.
On October 12-13, Chair Broussard, Vice Chair Dickerson, Acting General Counsel Lisa J. Stevenson, and Debbie Chacona, Assistant Staff Director of the Reports Analysis Division, participated in panel discussions at the annual conference of the Practising Law Institute.
Upcoming educational programs
October 27, 2021: The Commission will host Candidate 101: Getting Started, an introduction to the campaign finance laws and regulations that apply to federal candidates and campaigns, covering topics such as candidate registration, treasurer responsibilities, contribution limits and prohibitions, and basic reporting requirements.
November 16-17, 2021: The Commission will host a Virtual Conference online via Zoom.
For more information on upcoming training opportunities, see the Commission’s Trainings page.
Upcoming Commission meetings
October 26, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
October 28, 2021: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
Upcoming reporting due dates
October 15: October Quarterly Reports are due. For more information, see the 2021 Quarterly Reporting schedule.
October 20: October 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
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 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.