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  • Weekly Digests

Week of September 16 - 20, 2019

September 20, 2019

Commission meetings and hearings

No open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.

Advisory Opinions

Extension of Time

Advisory Opinion Request 2019-16 (Shemanski)

On September 17, the Commission received an Extension of Time for 30 days following the date that the Commission holds its first open meeting at which a quorum of at least four Commissioners is present. Requestor Phillip Shemanski, asks whether he may use the initials of a candidate’s name in the name of an unauthorized political committee.

Enforcement

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

MUR 7113

COMPLAINANT: L. Michael Zinser
RESPONDENT: Power of Liberty, Inc.
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Power of Liberty, Inc., a 501(c) (4) organization, failed to disclose electioneering communications disseminated by radio in Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District before the August 4, 2016 Republican primary election.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for Power of Liberty, Inc. to pay a civil penalty of $6,000.

MUR 7154

COMPLAINANT: Kathleen M. Eagan
RESPONDENTS: Ohio Democratic Party and Fran Alberty, in her official capacity as treasurer (ODP); Albertson for Congress and Esther Boykin, in her official capacity as treasurer; Strickland for Senate and Michael J. Johrendt, in his official capacity as treasurer; Beatty for Congress and Jeffrey A. Ruppert, in his official capacity as treasurer; Hillary for America and Elizabeth Jones, in her official capacity as treasurer; and Wharton for Congress and George Wharton, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that ODP failed to include appropriate disclaimers on a brochure and sample ballots that it produced and distributed in connection with the 2016 general election. The complaint further alleged that the brochure was a coordinated communication between ODP and the five federal candidates named in the brochure, and therefore some portion of the costs should have been attributed as in-kind contributions to each of those candidates.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that ODP violated the disclaimer requirements because while the sample ballots in question contained the required disclaimer, the brochure was not required to carry a federal disclaimer since (1) it contained endorsements by five federal candidates of only nonfederal candidates and it did not promote, attack, support, or oppose (“PASO”) any federal candidate, and (2) it did not appear to otherwise constitute federal election activity or any other federal-related activity requiring federal funding so as to require a disclaimer. The Commission further found no reason to believe ODP made, and the five federal candidates accepted, in-kind contributions in the form of coordinated communications because the brochure qualified for the Commission’s “safe harbor” for coordinated communications for endorsements by federal candidates.

MUR 7279

COMPLAINANTS: Common Cause and Karen Hobert Flynn
RESPONDENTS: Michael Waddell and Bone Collector, LLC
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Waddell and Bone Collector, LLC failed to disclose independent expenditures and to include required disclaimers on internet posts, and made excessive in-kind contributions to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. Specifically, the complaint alleged that Waddell paid to promote a Facebook post supporting Trump’s candidacy but failed to disclose the payment as an independent expenditure or include required disclaimers on the communication. The complaint further alleged that a second Facebook post supporting Trump redistributed a video produced by the Trump campaign, which resulted in an excessive in-kind contribution to Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.
DISPOSITION: The Commission 1) found no reason to believe that Waddell or Bone Collector, LLC failed to report an independent expenditure; 2) dismissed the allegation that the communications failed to include the required disclaimers; and 3) closed the file in connection with the remaining allegation.

MUR 7353

COMPLAINANT: Jericha Deaux
RESPONDENTS: Danny Tarkanian; Tarkanian for Congress and Robert Phillips, in his official capacity as treasurer; Victoria Seaman; and Victoria Seaman for Congress and Robert Phillips, III, in his official capacity as treasurer (Seaman for Congress)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Tarkanian and Tarkanian for Congress made an excessive and unreported in-kind contribution to Seaman and Seaman for Congress in the form of “donor information” to assist her with fundraising. In 2018, Tarkanian was a candidate for U.S. Senate in Nevada, but withdrew from that race and became a candidate for the 3rd Congressional District of Nevada. In 2018, Seaman was a candidate for that district but later withdrew from that race.
DISPOSITION: The Commission voted to dismiss the allegations and closed the file.

MUR 7559

COMPLAINANT: Deborah Rose
RESPONDENTS: Kootenai County Republican Central Committee; and Melanie Vander Feer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that an unknown person mailed a flyer supporting a Congressional candidate that lacked a proper disclaimer and falsely stated that it was from “your Conservative Republican Precinct Committeeman.”
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7596

COMPLAINANT: John A. Bast
RESPONDENTS: Committee to Elect Tedra Cobb and David Katz, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee); and Tedra Cobb
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee received excessive and potentially prohibited corporate in-kind contributions from unknown sources who provided gratis two vehicles for the Committee’s use. Cobb was a 2018 candidate for New York’s 21st Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the complaint in consideration of Commission priorities.

MUR 7598

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENTS: Democratic Party of South Carolina and Velva E. George, in her official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its normal supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe the Committee failed to disclose an aggregate total of $2,110,627.71 in receipts and disbursements on its 2016 August Monthly and 12-Day Pre-General Reports.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for the Committee to pay a civil penalty of $29,600.

MUR 7607

COMPLAINANT: FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENT: PowerPac.org (PowerPac)
SUBJECT: In the normal course of carrying out its normal supervisory responsibilities, the Commission initiated proceedings to determine whether there was reason to believe PowerPac, a 501(c) (4) tax-exempt organization, failed to file a 24-hour report to support an independent expenditure totaling $75,023.67 on its 2017 Year-End Report.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for PowerPac to pay a civil penalty of $7,600.

MURs 6940, 7097, 7146, 7160 & 7193 (Correct the Record and Elizabeth Cohen, in her official capacity as treasurer; Hillary for America and Elizabeth Jones, in her official capacity as treasurer; Priorities USA Action and Greg Speed, in his official capacity as treasurer ; David Brock; Hillary Rodham Clinton; DNC Services Corp./DNC and William Q. Derrough, in his official capacity as treasurer ; Charlie Baker; John Podesta; Robby Mook; Dennis Cheng; Elizabeth Christina Reynolds; Karen Finney; Mary Pat Bonner; and American Bridge 21st Century and Rodell Mollineau, in his official capacity as treasurer). On September 20, Chair Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

Administrative Fines

The Commission made public 32 closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

AF 3409
Roza Calderon for Congress 2018 and Michael Williams, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3410
Annette Teijeiro for Congress and Annette Teijeiro, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,000.

AF 3411
Reuben for Congress and Breon King, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,866.

AF 3447
Action Coalition PAC and Pam Mattson, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $11,341.

AF 3448
Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. PAC and Doug Barry, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $526.

AF 3449
America Comes First PAC and David W. Schamens, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $15,594.

AF 3450
Angie Chirino for Congress and Jorge Mirabent, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,496.

AF 3451
Brayden For Our Future and Andy Lo, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 3452
Carole Cheney for Congress and Holly Joy, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

AF 3453
Committee to Elect Chuck Boyce and William Smith, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $148.

AF 3454
Committee to Elect HP and Dounia Metouri, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $6,380.

AF 3456
Dr. Kathie Allen for Congress and Kathryn Allen, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $333.

AF 3457
Epley for Congress and James Epley, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $667.

AF 3458
Eugene for Congress and Eric Yu, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,500.

AF 3459
Grassroots Awareness PAC and Pam Mattson, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $400.

AF 3461
Mad Dog PAC and Claude Taylor, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $12,758.

AF 3462
Morgan Dunn for Congress and Chris Dunn, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $472.

AF 3464
Our Atlantic City and Timothy Mancuso, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $178.

AF 3465
Pezzullo for Senator and Nathan Davidson, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $6,012.

AF 3466
Pringle for Congress and David Pringle, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $400.

AF 3467
Protect Our Future and Pam Mattson, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $7,797.

AF 3468
Rhea for Republican Renewal and Bill Rhea, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $400.

AF 3469
Rick Kennedy for Congress and Richard Kennedy, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $196.

AF 3470
Roza Calderon for Congress 2018 and Michael Williams, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3472
Shepherd for Congress and Doug Shepherd, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 3473
Solomon for Congress and Robert Charles Solomon, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $4,527.

AF 3474
Tim Gomes for Congress and Jennifer May, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

AF 3475
Tim Rich for Congress and Timothy A. Rich, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3476
To Elect Jenny Marshall and Jennifer Marshall, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $667.

AF 3477
Tom Campbell for North Dakota and Tom Campbell, in his official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3478
Voter Education and Pam Mattson, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed a civil penalty of $1,200.

AF 3479
Zordani for Congress and Julie Nowak, in her official capacity as treasurer. The Commission made a final determination and assessed no civil penalty.

Audits

Final Audit Report of the Commission on the Tennessee Democratic Party. On September 16, the Commission made public the Final Audit Report of the Commission on the Tennessee Democratic Party covering campaign finance activity from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016. The Commission approved findings related to misstatement of financial activity, receipt of contributions in excess of the limit, disclosure of joint fundraising transfers, recordkeeping for employees, and reporting of debts and obligations.

Litigation

CREW, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 19-2753) On September 16, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Doe, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 18-5099) On September 16, Plaintiffs filed a Redacted Petition for Writ of Certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Level the Playing Field, et al. v. FEC (Case No. 19-5117) On September 18, Plaintiffs-Appellants filed a Corrected Brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Outreach

On September 18, Communications Specialist Zainab Smith discussed the role and work of the Commission with students from American University.

Commissioner events

On September 17, Chair Weintraub hosted a symposium entitled "Digital Disinformation and the Threat to Democracy: Information Integrity in the 2020 Elections," co-sponsored by PEN America and Cyber Policy Center’s Global Digital Policy Incubator at Stanford University. Participants discussed policy approaches and tools addressing such issues as how to minimize disruptions by foreign influence operations in the 2020 campaign.

Upcoming Commission meetings and hearings

The Commission voted to cancel the executive session scheduled for September 24 and the open meeting scheduled for September 26.

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

Upcoming reporting due dates

October 15: October Quarterly reports are due. For more information on quarterly reporting dates, refer to the 2019 Quarterly Reporting page of the Commission website.

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

Upcoming educational programs

On October 2, Commission staff will host reporting and FECFile webinars for candidate committees.

On October 29-30, the Commission will host a Regional Conference in San Diego, CA for candidates, political parties, and political action committees.

Additional research materials

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.

Printed copies of the 2019 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) are 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 2019 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. 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.

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 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.

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