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For Immediate Release
April 22, 2004
Contact: George Smaragdis
Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
Kelly Huff
FRAUDULENT SCHEME TO DECEIVE VOTERS RESULTS
IN $84,000 IN CIVIL PENALTIES
WASHINGTON -- The FEC has entered into conciliation agreements with Adrian Plesha and Charles Ball for Congress resulting from their fraudulent misrepresentation of their opponent’s party and a Congressman from a neighboring district in mailings and phone calls during the 1998 campaign. The Commission found probable cause to believe that Plesha and the committee had knowingly and willfully violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act). Adrian Plesha will pay a $60,000 civil penalty and Charles Ball for Congress will pay $24,000.

Shortly before the 1998 general election, Ball for Congress, acting through its campaign manager Adrian Plesha, covertly arranged and financed the dissemination of approximately 40,000 letters and 10,000 phone calls that urged registered Democrats not to vote for Representative Ellen Tauscher. The letters and phone calls came from the "East Bay Democratic Committee," a fictitious organization created by Adrian Plesha and Ball for Congress. The letters contained a false address and falsely used neighboring Democratic Congressman George Miller's name as the signatory. Plesha knowingly made false statements to the FEC, denying involvement in or knowledge of this scheme when in fact he had created, authorized and distributed the fabricated letters and calls. To avoid being identified as the true sponsor of the communications, Ball for Congress and Adrian Plesha omitted the required disclaimers, created phony invoices, used stamps rather than the committee’s postal meter and asked vendors to hide any links between the communications and Ball for Congress.

The Act prohibits Federal candidates or their agents from fraudulently misrepresenting any committee under their control as speaking or writing on behalf of any other candidate or political party on a matter that is damaging to that other candidate or party. Additionally, the law requires any person who expressly advocates the election or defeat of a federal candidate through a mass mailing to include a disclaimer stating who paid for and authorized the mailing.

The FEC also referred Mr. Plesha to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. Mr. Plesha pled guilty to making false statements to the FEC and was sentenced to three years of probation, a $5,000 fine and 160 hours of community service.

 

1. MUR 4919  
     
  RESPONDENTS: (a) Charles Ball for Congress, Justin Briggs, treasurer

(b) Adrian Plesha

(c) Heather Patterson

  COMPLAINANT: Internal
  SUBJECT: Fraudulent misrepresentation of campaign authority; disclaimers
  DISPOSITION: (a) Conciliation Agreement: $24,000 civil penalty

(b) Conciliation Agreement: $60,000 civil penalty

(c) RTB No Further Action

  DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD: Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://eqs.sdrdc.com/eqs/searcheqs by entering 4919 under case number. They are also available in the FECs Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

*There are four administrative stages to the FEC enforcement process:

1. Receipt of proper complaint 3. "Probable cause" stage
2. "Reason to believe" stage 4. Conciliation stage

It requires the votes of at least four of the six Commissioners to take any action. The FEC can close a case at any point after reviewing a complaint. If a violation is found and conciliation cannot be reached, then the FEC can institute a civil court action against a respondent.