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  • Weekly Digests

Week of September 4 – September 7, 2018

September 7, 2018

Commission meetings and hearings

Advisory opinions

Advisory opinion issued

AO 2018-11 (Microsoft Corporation). On September 6, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Microsoft Corporation. The Commission concluded that the requestor’s proposal to offer a package of enhanced online account security services to its election-sensitive customers, at no additional charge and on a nonpartisan basis, would not result in the making of a prohibited in-kind contribution because Microsoft would be providing such services based on commercial and not political considerations, in the ordinary course of business, and not merely for promotional consideration or to generate goodwill. Thus, the Commission concluded that the proposal is permissible under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (the Act), and Commission regulations. The Commission also noted that Microsoft’s services would further the Commission's implementation of the ban on foreign participation in elections at 52 USC §30121.

Audits

Brian Higgins for Congress. On September 6, the Commission issued the Final Audit Report of the Commission on Brian Higgins for Congress, covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016. The Commission approved findings related to misstatement of financial activity and receipt of excessive contributions.

Enforcement

The Commission made public eight closed cases and three Statements of Reasons. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MURs 7094, 7096, and 7098

  • COMPLAINANTS: Campaign Legal Center; J. Gerald Hebert; Democracy 21; Paul S. Ryan; Fred Wertheimer; Michael Glenn Bradley; and American Democracy Legal Fund
  • RESPONDENTS: Donald J. Trump for President and Timothy Jost in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Donald J. Trump
  • SUBJECT: The complaints alleged that the Committee knowingly solicited contributions from foreign nationals in connection with the 2016 presidential election by sending emails to members of foreign parliaments in June and July 2016.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. On September 6, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7119

  • COMPLAINANT: American Democracy Legal Fund
  • RESPONDENTS: Donald J. Trump; Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and Timothy Jost, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); Americans for Liberty and Free Enterprise and Gary F. Fox II, in his official capacity as treasurer (ALFE)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that ALFE, an independent expenditure-only political committee, coordinated with and thereby contributed to the Committee by paying for a campaign rally that featured a purported Committee staffer as a speaker, and alleged that ALFE failed to file required disclosure reports with the Commission. Both the Committee and ALFE denied that event was coordinated and that the rally speaker was a Committee staff member.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe ALFE impermissibly coordinated with the Committee or that the Committee accepted a prohibited in-kind contribution because the available record provided insufficient factual support for the allegations. The Commission found reason to believe ALFE had not filed mandatory disclosure reports of receipts and disbursements. After ALFE filed all of the missing disclosure reports, which indicated that it had no financial activity aside from a single $100 in-kind contribution in connection with the public event at issue in the matter, the Commission voted to take no further action and cautioned ALFE to maintain accurate records and to file future disclosure reports as required by the Act.

MUR 7135

  • COMPLAINANT: American Democracy Legal Fund
  • RESPONDENT: Paul Manafort; Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and Timothy Jost, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Donald J. Trump
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Manafort, as an agent of Trump and the Committee, made an impermissible solicitation on behalf of an independent expenditure-only political committee that was supporting Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. On September 6, Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioner Matthew S. Petersen and Vice Chair Weintraub issued Statements of Reasons.

MUR 7202

  • COMPLAINANT: Republican Party of Wisconsin; and Mark Morgan
  • RESPONDENTS: Jill Stein for President and Steven Welzer, in his official capacity as treasurer (JSP); and Hillary for America and Jose Villarreal, in his official capacity as treasurer (HFA)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that JSP’s petition to the State of Wisconsin for a recount of the 2016 general election results resulted in excessive, in-kind contributions to HFA, Hillary Clinton’s principal campaign committee for the 2016 presidential election. The complaint also alleged that HFA accepted excessive contributions by coordinating with JSP, and that donors to JSP for the recount who also contributed to HFA may have made excessive contributions to HFA.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that JSP made or HFA accepted excessive in-kind contributions because while donations to recount funds are subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of the Act, they are exempted from the definition of “contribution” or “expenditure.” As such, they are not aggregated with contributions made for the general election under the Act. Further, the Commission noted that despite the fact that the Act provides that expenditures made in coordination with a candidate are considered to be contributions to that candidate-- since disbursements for recount activities are exempted from the definitions of contribution and expenditure-- JSP’s recount activity could not have constituted a coordinated contribution or expenditure even if the recount activity was coordinated with HFA as alleged in the complaint.

MUR 7205

  • COMPLAINANT: Phillip James Wiglesworth
  • RESPONDENTS: Jill Stein for President and Steven Welzer in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee impermissibly accepted foreign national donations in connection with a recount effort following the 2016 presidential election.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. On September 7, Vice Chair Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 7362

  • COMPLAINANT: Don Bradway
  • RESPONDENT: Michael Snyder for Congress and Michael Snyder, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
  • SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee failed to properly itemize contributions that it received in disclosure reports filed with the Commission.
  • DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in furtherance of other Commission priorities.

Litigation

Outreach

  • On September 5, Vice Chair Weintraub discussed campaign finance disclosure rules and the role of the Commission with a delegation from Bangladesh visiting the United States as part of the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program.
  • On September 6-7, Vice Chair Weintraub, Commissioner Petersen and Debbie Chacona, Assistant Staff Director, Reports Analysis Division, participated in panel discussions at the annual conference of the Practising Law Institute in Washington, D.C.

Rulemaking and agency procedures

Notification of Availability for REG 2018-02 (Leadership PACs’ Personal Use). On September 6, the Commission approved a Notification of Availability drafted in response to a petition asking the Commission to revise and amend the existing regulation concerning the personal use of campaign funds by federal candidates and officeholders to specify that the regulation applies to leadership PAC funds. The Commission seeks public comment on the petition within 60 days of publication of the Notification of Availability in the Federal Register.

Press Releases

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

  • September 25, 2018: The Commission is scheduled to meet in executive session.
  • September 27, 2018: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.

Upcoming reporting due dates

  • September 20: September Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2018 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

Educational Outreach

Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach 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.

The 2018 Congressional Primary Election Dates list is available.

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 2017 edition of 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.

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