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Weekly Digests


For Immediate Release
Contact:
Judith Ingram
November 18, 2016   Christian Hilland
    Julia Queen
     
PDF
pdf version of this Weekly Digest   ISSUE 2016-47

Weekly Digest
Week of November 14 – 18


COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS

On November 15, the Commission held an executive session.

On November 17, the Commission held an open meeting.

ADVISORY OPINIONS

Advisory Opinions Issued

Advisory Opinion 2016-16 (Gary Johnson 2012). On November 17, the Commission approved an advisory opinion in response to a request from Gary Johnson 2012 (the Committee), the primary campaign committee for Johnson, a publicly funded presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party. The Commission concluded that the Committee may use its cash on hand and may raise additional funds to fulfill obligations to the United States Treasury and to the Commission, consistent with the restrictions set forth in the Public Funding Act regulations. Specifically, the Committee may: (1) solicit and accept funds to pay its obligations from individuals who are currently allowed to contribute to candidates but who were prohibited sources (either federal contractors or foreign nationals) at the time of the 2012 election; (2) use cash on hand in its general election account to pay its obligations; and (3) raise funds outside the amount limitations of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, to pay civil penalties but not to repay the U.S. Treasury. The Commission concluded further that payments by a third party to the U.S. Treasury or to the Commission are subject to the same source or amount limitations and the same reporting requirements as payments received by the Committee for those purposes.

Advisory Opinion 2016-17 (Libertarian Party of Michigan Executive Committee, Inc.), Advisory Opinion 2016-18 (Ohio Green Party), and Advisory Opinion 2016-19 (Libertarian Party of Colorado). On November 17, the Commission approved advisory opinions in response to requests from the Libertarian Party of Michigan Executive Committee, Ohio Green Party and Libertarian Party of Colorado (the Committees). The Commission concluded that the Committees qualify as state committees of national political parties.

Advisory Opinions Considered

Advisory Opinion 2016-20 (Mlinarchik). On November 17, the Commission considered two drafts in response to a request from Christoph Mlinarchik, the sole member of a limited liability company that is a federal contractor, and held over a vote. The requestor asks whether, as the sole member of a limited liability company that is treated as a disregarded entity by the Internal Revenue Service for federal income tax purposes and that is negotiating a contract with the federal government, he may make contributions using his personal funds. On November 17, the Commission received an Extension of Time until December 2, 2016.

Advisory Opinion 2016-21 (Great America PAC). On November 17, the Commission held over consideration of an advisory opinion request from Great America PAC, a non-connected hybrid political committee. The requestor asks several questions about the applicability of the former employee conduct standard of the Commission’s coordinated communications regulations. On November 16, the Commission received an Extension of Time until December 15, 2016.

Requests Received

Advisory Opinion Request 2016-23 (Socialist Workers Party). On November 16, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2016-23 (Socialist Workers Party). The Socialist Workers Party requests that the Commission extend the partial reporting exemption provided in earlier advisory opinions to the Socialist Workers Party. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than November 28, 2016) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after the receipt of the complete request, that is, by January 13, 2017.

Advisory Opinion Request 2016-24 (Independence Party of Minnesota). On November 18, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2016-24 (Independence Party of Minnesota).  The requestor asks whether it qualifies as a state party committee. The Commission will accept written comments on the request during the 10-day period following publication of the request (no later than November 28, 2016) and must issue a response no later than 60 days after receipt of the complete request, that is, by January 17, 2017.

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

MUR 6823
COMPLAINANT: Tea Party Patriots and Its Chair, Jenny Beth Martin
RESPONDENTS: Mississippi Conservatives and Brian Perry, in his official capacity as treasurer (MC); Trustmark National Bank (Trustmark); and Harry M. Walker
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that MC, an independent expenditure-only political committee, did not disclose the identity of a contributor and disclosed incorrect information in the loan section of a quarterly report. The complaint also alleged that Trustmark made, and Walker consented to, a prohibited national bank contribution when Trustmark loaned $250,150 to MC without Trustmark having a secured interest in a certificate of deposit worth approximately $250,543 that a Trustmark depositor pledged as collateral for the loan, and that Trustmark and Walker certified a portion of an MC disclosure report that inaccurately described the collateral for the loan.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe Trustmark made, or Walker consented to, a prohibited contribution to MC because Trustmark apparently was assured of repayment when it made the loan. The Commission found reason to believe that MC did not disclose the identity of a contributor and that it disclosed incorrect information in a quarterly report. The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement providing for MC to pay a civil penalty of $19,000.

MUR 6854
COMPLAINANT: Carla Stotts-Hills, Campaign Manager, Ricky Wilkins for Congress
RESPONDENT: Steve Cohen for Congress and Henry Turley, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee aired a radio advertisement with a disclaimer stating that the candidate had approved its contents, but the candidate later stated publicly that he had not approved the ad in the form in which it was broadcast. Cohen was a 2014 candidate for Tennessee’s 9th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter in consideration of Commission priorities and resources. The Commission observed that the ad’s disclaimer was technically compliant at the time it was broadcast.

MUR 6880
COMPLAINANT: Casey M. Mann, North Carolina Democratic Party
RESPONDENT: Carolina Rising, Inc.
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Carolina Rising, a 501(c)(4) organization, failed to disclose donors for two electioneering communications.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file. On November 18, Commissioners Ann M. Ravel and Ellen L. Weintraub issued a Statement of Reasons.

MUR 6948
COMPLAINANT:  Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust
RESPONDENTS: Nancy Rotering; and Nancy Rotering for Congress and Michael Kreloff, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Rotering failed to register with the Commission in a timely manner. Rotering was a 2016 candidate for Illinois’s 10th Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe Rotering failed to register with the Commission on time because she filed her Statement of Candidacy and the Committee filed its Statement of Organization in a timely manner.

MUR 7008
COMPLAINANT: American Democracy Legal Fund
RESPONDENTS: Jon Keyser; and Jon Keyser for Senate and Paul Kilgore, in his official capacity as treasurer
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that (1) Keyser solicited $3 million in soft money for his Senate campaign before declaring his candidacy and (2) if outside groups used soft money to pay for communications supporting Keyser’s candidacy, they would be providing illegal in-kind contributions to Keyser’s campaign. Keyser was a 2016 candidate for Colorado’s United States Senate seat.
DISPOSITION: The Commission closed the file.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

The Commission made public one campaign finance enforcement matter that was resolved through its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

ADR 791
COMPLAINANT:  FEC-Initiated
RESPONDENTS:  Oklahoma Leadership Council and Peter Hodges, in his official capacity as treasurer (the Committee)
SUBJECT:  The Committee made a series of reporting and other errors including failure to file reports and late filing, prohibited and other impermissible contributions or transfers, mathematical discrepancies, failure to provide supporting schedules, failure to properly itemize contributions from individuals, failure to properly itemize disbursements, Federal Election Activity/Levin Funds, and allocated federal and non-federal activity.
DISPOSITION:  The Committee agreed to certify that a representative of the Committee participated in an FEC conference, webinar, or other program developed in consultation with the FEC’s Information Division and pay a civil penalty of $8,750.

AUDITS

Proposed Final Audit Report on the Utah Republican Party. On November 17, the Commission discussed then held over a vote on the Proposed Final Audit Report on the Utah Republican Party, covering campaign finance activity between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012.

LITIGATION

CREW, et al. v. FEC (Case 1:14-cv-01419-CRC). On November 14, the Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Cross Appeal in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

CREW v. FEC (Case 1:15-cv-02038-RC). On November 10, the Commission filed its Reply Memorandum in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

CREW v. FEC (Case 1:16-cv-02255). On November 14, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and Melanie Sloan filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief  in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Independence Institute v. FEC (Case 1:14-cv-01500-CKK-PAM-APM). On November 10, the Plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal in the United States Supreme Court.

Republican Party of Louisiana, et al. v. FEC (Case 1:15-cv-1241-CRC-SS-TSC). On November 11, the Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Supreme Court.

RULEMAKING AND AGENCY PROCEDURES

Proposed Amendments to Directive 52. On November 17, the Commission held over consideration of amendments to Directive 52, which governs the agency’s circulation vote procedures.

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM

On November 16, the Commission hosted a Webinar on Winding Down the Campaign & Post-General Reporting. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

OUTREACH

On November 16, Commissioner Ann M. Ravel spoke at a forum on President Obama's legacy, presented by the Harvard Law & Policy Review and Harvard Law's chapter of the American Constitution Society in Cambridge, MA.

PUBLIC DISCLOSURE

On November 16, the Commission’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) made public its Audit of the FY 2016 Financial Statements.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Issues Four Advisory Opinions (issued November 17)

UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS

December 1: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.

December 6: The Commission is scheduled to hold an executive session.

December 8: 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

December 8:  Post-General Reports are due.  For more information on reporting dates, refer to the 2016 Reporting Dates page of the Commission website.

DISCLOSURE INITIATIVES

Commission staff, together with our partners at 18F, continue to add new features to the agency's beta.fec.gov website. The Commission encourages website visitors to submit comments and questions by clicking on the “Feedback” tab at the bottom of each page.

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.

The 2016 edition of the Combined Federal State Disclosure and Election Directory is available in the Public Records section of the Commission website. 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 Commission has published the November Record newsletter. Sign up to receive email notification when new Record articles are posted.

The 2016 edition of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations can be downloaded from the website.  To order printed copies, call (800) 424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.

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