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

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

1.

MUR 5024R

RESPONDENTS:

(a)   Council for Responsible Government, Inc. and its         Accountability Project

(b)   Gary Glenn, Corporate Officer

(c)   William “Bill” Wilson, Corporate Officer

COMPLAINANT:

Anthony S. Cicatiello and Kean for Congress

SUBJECT:

Corporate independent expenditure; disclaimer

DISPOSITION:

(a-c)     Conciliation Agreement: $5,500 civil penalty*

            The complainant alleged that the Council made prohibited corporate contributions which were coordinated with Kean’s opponent and that the Council should be registered and reporting as a political committee. The complainant, to support the allegations, attached two brochures financed and distributed by the Council which criticize Kean’s fitness for federal office. In response to the complaint, the Council denied being a political committee and argued that the brochures constituted protected issue advocacy, not express advocacy. The Commission first considered this matter on November 4, 2003, but was evenly divided on whether the respondents violated the Act, and subsequently voted to dismiss the complaint and close the file. The Complainants filed suit for judicial review of the dismissal (See Kean for Congress Committee v. FEC, No. 1:04CV00007 (JDB), United Sates District Court for the District of Columbia). The Commission moved to dismiss the case for lack of standing, but the court denied the motion, allowing the case to proceed on the Kean Committee’s previously filed motion for summary judgment on the merits. In lieu of filing an immediate response to Complainant’s motion for summary judgment, the Commission sought a remand from the district court to reconsider its decision in light of the McConnell decision (See McConnell v. FEC, No. 02-1674, Supreme Court of the United States). The court granted this request on February 15, 2005. In considering this matter on remand, the Commission concluded that there was reason to believe a violation occurred because the brochures distributed by the Council contain express advocacy, and that the Council made a prohibited corporate independent expenditure and failed to provide a proper disclaimer on the brochures. The Commission also found reason to believe against the two officers of the Council for having consented to the prohibited expenditures. The Commission conciliated with the respondents. Statement of Reasons was issued by Commission Smith.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5024R 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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