Week of January 16 – 20
COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS
No Commission open meetings or executive sessions were scheduled this week.
Advisory Opinion 2016-25 (Mike Pence for Indiana). On January 13, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2016-25. The requestor asks whether, despite Mike Pence’s status as a federal officeholder, it may use nonfederal funds to pay for storing state campaign assets, complying with Indiana’s campaign disclosure requirements on state committees, and winding down the state campaign. Public comments on the draft are due by 9:00 am on January 24, 2017.
Advisory Opinion 2016-26 (Green Party of Florida). On January 13, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2016-26. The requestor asks whether it qualifies as a state party committee of the Green Party of the United States. Public comments on the draft are due by 9:00 am on January 24, 2017.
The Commission made public three closed cases, as follows. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.
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); Gotham Government Relations & Communications LLC (Gotham); and Extra Mile Inc. (Extra Mile).
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that the Committee paid actors to attend Trump’s candidacy announcement but failed to disclose payments to the actors or the companies that allegedly hired them, or to report a debt or obligations to Gotham, one of the companies involved with running the announcement event. Consequently, Gotham and Extra Mile, the other company allegedly involved with hiring the actors, may have made and Trump and the Committee may have accepted prohibited or excessive contributions. Trump was a 2016 candidate for United States President.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that the Committee failed to report debt to Gotham, in light of the relatively modest amount at issue. The Commission closed the file in connection with the remaining allegations.
COMPLAINANT: Chia-Chi Teng
RESPONDENTS: Jason Chaffetz; Friends of Jason Chaffetz and Bruce Garfield, in his official capacity as treasurer 9the Committee); Beehive PAC (f/k/a Budgethawks.com) and Bruce Garfield, in his official capacity as treasurer (Leadership PAC); Beehive Victory Fund and Bruce Garfield, in his official capacity as treasurer; Rock Chalk Media LLC and Alex Chaffetz, in his official capacity as registered agent; and Alex Chaffetz
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Chaffetz converted campaign funds to personal use by (1) using a Committee-owned vehicle for personal use without reimbursing the committee; (2) using campaign funds to host a dinner at a hotel; (3) receiving reimbursements for hotel and childcare costs incurred during family visits to Washington, D.C.; and (4) receiving frequent flyer miles on Chaffetz’s personal credit card for purchases that were later reimbursed by the Committee. The complaint alleged further that the Committee and the Leadership PAC failed to itemize reimbursements made to Chaffetz and his wife, and that the Committee failed to report an expenditure made by the Leadership PAC to a media group owned and operated by Chaffetz’s brother, Alex, as an in-kind contribution. Chaffetz represents Utah’s 3rd Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation concerning use of the vehicle. The Commission sent a cautionary letter in connection with that allegation. The Commission found no reason to believe Chaffetz converted campaign funds to personal use in connection with the reimbursements for a Utah hotel and childcare, as well as personal credit card charges relating to campaign activity. The Commission closed the file in connection with the allegation concerning hotel stays in Washington. The Commission found no reason to believe violations occurred in connection with the remaining allegations and respondents.
COMPLAINANT: American Democracy Legal Fund
RESPONDENTS: Congressional Leadership Fund and Caleb Crosby, in his official capacity as treasurer (CLF); Representative Paul D. Ryan; and Mason Fink
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that Rep. Ryan selected Fink to serve on the board of CLF, an independent expenditure-only political committee, thus demonstrating that Ryan purportedly exercised control over CLF. Such control would violate the statutory prohibition against entities established, financed, maintained or controlled by a candidate or officeholder raising or spending funds that are not subject to the limitations, prohibitions and reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended. Ryan was a 2016 candidate for reelection to Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District.
DISPOSITION: The Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegations in light of the failure of the record evidence to satisfy the Commission’s test for control, respondents’ sworn denials, and the ambiguous information supporting the complaint.
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.
RESPONDENTS: VoteVets.org Action Fund
SUBJECT: The organization failed to file the 2014 July Quarterly and Year-End Reports to support independent expenditures totaling $295,086.46 and $786,219.19.
DISPOSITION: The Committee agreed to certify that a representative of the Respondent participated in an FEC conference, webinar, or other program developed in consultation with the FEC’s Information Division; develop and certify implementation of a compliance operations manual that includes internal controls consist with the Commission’s Internal Controls and Political Committees and the Best Practices for Committee Management; and pay a civil penalty of $2,000.
Lieu, et al. v. FEC (Case 1:16-cv-02201-EGS). On January 13, the Commission filed its Answer in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Libertarian National Committee, Inc. v. FEC (Case 1:16-cv-00121-BAH). On January 17, the Commission filed its Answer and Affirmative Defenses in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
RULEMAKING AND AGENCY PROCEDURES
Party Rulemaking Petitions: The Commission is currently accepting public comments in response to two citizen petitions. The first, REG 2016-03 Political Party Rules Petition, asks the Commission to revise existing rules regarding the use of federal funds to pay for certain activities of state, district, or local committees of a political party. The second, REG 2014-10 Party Contribution Limits, asks the Commission to amend its regulations to implement amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act made by the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, which established certain new accounts for national party committees, and to amend the Commission’s regulations regarding convention committees. The deadline for comments on both petitions is January 30, 2017.
On January 18, the Commission held a Webinar on Year-End Reporting for PACs and Party Committees.
On January 18, the Commission held a Webinar on FECFile for PACs and Party Committees.
UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS AND HEARINGS
January 24: The Commission is scheduled to hold an executive session.
January 25: The Commission is scheduled to hold an open meeting.
February 1: The Commission is scheduled to hold a hearing on REG 2011-02: Internet Communication Disclaimers. At that hearing, the Commission is scheduled to hear testimony regarding whether and how the Commission should revise its rules at 11 CFR 110.11 regarding disclaimers on Internet communications. Specifically, the Commission is considering whether to modify the disclaimer requirements for certain Internet communications, or to provide exceptions thereto, consistent with the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Meeting dates are subject to change. Please contact the Press Office the week of the scheduled meeting for confirmation.
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UPCOMING EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS
January 25, 2017: Webinar on Year-End Reporting for Candidate Committees. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.
January 25, 2017: Webinar on FECFile for Candidate Committees. Additional information is available on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.
UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES
January 31, 2017: Year-End Reports are due. For information on reporting dates, refer to the 2017 Reporting Dates page of the Commission website.
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 latest 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 January Record newsletter. Sign up to receive email notification when new Record articles are posted.
The latest 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 email@example.com.
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