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For Immediate Release
July 22, 2005
Contact: Kelly Huff
Bob Biersack
Ian Stirton
George Smaragdis
COMPLIANCE CASES MADE PUBLIC
 

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Election Commission has recently made public its final action on a four matters previously under review (MURs). This release contains only disposition information.

1./2.

MURs 5540 and 5545

RESPONDENTS:

(a)   Kerry-Edwards 2004, Inc., Robert Farmer, treasurer          [5540]

(b)   CBS Broadcasting, Inc. [5540 & 5545]

(c)   Dan Rather, CBS News [5545]

(d)   Viacom Inc. [5545]

COMPLAINANT:

Center for Individual Freedom [5540]

Jeffrey S. Smith [5545]

SUBJECT:

Electioneering communication; independent expenditure; corporate contribution

DISPOSITION:

(a-d)    No reason to believe*

            [re: in connection with September 8, 2004 broadcast of 60 Minutes Wednesday]

In MUR 5540 the complaint alleged that the news story constituted a prohibited electioneering communication which was coordinated with the Kerry-Edwards 2004 campaign and therefore was also a prohibited corporate contribution. The complainant asserts that the broadcast was not a legitimate news story because CBS failed to verify its news story and improperly coordinated with the Kerry campaign.

In MUR 5545 the complaint alleged that the broadcast constituted an independent expenditure and a prohibited corporate contribution. The complainant asserts that the broadcast did not fit the definition of a news story, commentary or editorial because it expressly advocated the defeat of the President. Respondents countered that the media exemption applies in this case.

The Commission found no reason to believe that the respondents violated the law because the FEC’s media exemption applies. Statements of Reasons were issued by Chairman Thomas, Vice Chairman Toner and Commissioners Mason, Smith and Weintraub.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering either 5540 or 5545 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

 

 

3./4.

MURs 5562 and 5570

RESPONDENT:

(a)   Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. [5562 & 5570]

(b)   Mark Hyman [5570]

(c)   Frederick G. Smith [5570]

COMPLAINANT:

Democratic National Committee [5562]

Sam Osborne [5570]

SUBJECT:

Corporate contributions

DISPOSITION:

(a-b) No reason to believe* 

In MUR 5562 the complaintant alleged that Sinclair Broadcast Group was planning to order all of its television stations to air, commercial free, a program titled Stolen Honor which in turn would have constituted a corporate funded electioneering communication and in-kind contribution. In response, Sinclair contended that the matter complained of by the DNC is moot because Sinclair’s television stations did not broadcast Stolen Honor and that a number of Sinclair’s stations aired an internally produced news program.

In MUR 5570 the complaint alleged that Sinclair and corporate officers Fred Smith and Mark Hyman, as well as other unnamed corporate officers have participated in or authorized the illegal use of corporate funds to affect the 2004 election for the presidency. The complaint focuses on several quoted comments concerning Senator Kerry’s presidential candidacy. The complaint does not list dates, the programs or context in which they were made. In response, noting the lack of specificity in the complaint, Sinclair believes the comments quoted all appeared during news programming.

The Commission found no reason to believe that the respondents violated the law because the FEC’s media exemption applies. Statements of Reasons were issued by Chairman Thomas, Vice Chairman Toner and Commissioners Mason, Smith and Weintraub.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering either 5562 or 5570 under case number in the Enforcement Query System.  They are also available in the FEC’s 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.

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