Skip Navigation
Federal Election Commission, United States of America (logo). Link to FEC Home Page
Federal Election Commission
Search

 

HOME / PRESS OFFICE / NEWS

News Releases

 

For Immediate Release                                                                               Contact: Bob Biersack
July 25, 2007                                                                                                         George Smaragdis
                                                                                                                              Michelle Ryan

FEC CLOSES SEVEN ENFORCMENT CASES, COLLECTS $21,000 IN CIVIL PENALTIES

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission (FEC/the Commission) recently closed seven enforcement cases, collecting $21,000 in penalties.

In MUR 5410, the Commission found reason to believe 2004 Senate candidate James D.Oberweis (IL) and his principal campaign committee, Oberweis for U.S.Senate, Inc. along with Oberweis Dairy, Inc. and its President and CEO, Robert Renaut, violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) by coordinating television advertisements paid for by Oberweis Dairy.  The ads featured Mr. Oberweis and were broadcast in Illinois within 120 days of the state’s primary election.  The respondents contended they acted in good faith in airing the advertisements, but agreed to pay a civil penalty of $21,000 for violating Commission regulations.

In MUR 5722, the Commission found no reason to believe Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen violated the Act’s registration and reporting requirements for Federal candidates.  The Commission also dismissed with admonishments allegations against Mr. Lauzen and his State campaign committee regarding the use of nonfederal funds to conduct polling activities to determine whether to run for U.S. Congress. 

In MUR 5761, the Commission found no reason to believe Patricia Madrid violated the Act by soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending nonfederal funds in connection with her 2006 bid for Congress (NM/01).  The complaint centered on allegations that Ms. Madrid violated the Act by funding testing the waters activities with money from her state committee, Justice for America, which remained active after she declared her candidacy for Congress. 

The Commission dismissed MURs 5768, 5797, 5839 and 5899 after determining they did not warrant further review based on Enforcement Priority System criteria.**  MUR 5768 centered on allegations that West Central Cooperative made a prohibited corporate contribution to Congressman Leonard Boswell’s (IA/03)campaign committee by producing and mailing invitations to a fundraising luncheon.  MUR 5797 stemmed from allegations that Guillame de Ramel, a candidate for Secretary of State in Rhode Island made a contribution in the name of another on his wife’s behalf to the Bush/ Cheney 2004 campaign committee.  In MUR 5839, the complainant alleged Blessinger for Congress, the campaign committee of Martin Blessinger (NY/04), failed to report initial campaign expenses incurred before the Committee was registered with the FEC. 

In MUR 5899, the New York Bankers Association Community Political Action Committee (PAC) self reported potential violations to the Commission.  The New York Bankers Association had acquired the assets of another association, including its PAC, which appeared to have violated multiple provisions of the Act.  The Commission determined the self-reported violations occurred prior to the acquisition, the New York Bankers Association initiated a full and comprehensive review of the acquired association’s PAC and took corrective action where appropriate, and cooperated with the Commission to address the matter.  In light of these considerations, the Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the matter.

By law, the FEC must attempt to resolve its enforcement cases or Matters Under Review (MURs) through a confidential investigative process that may lead to a negotiated conciliation agreement between the Commission and the individual or group the Commission determines has violated the law.  Additional information regarding MURs can be found on the FEC website at http://www.fec.gov/em/mur.shtml.

This release contains only summary information.  For additional details, please consult publicly available documents for each case in the Enforcement Query System (EQS) on the FEC website at http://eqs.fec.gov/eqs/searcheqs .

1.

MUR 5410

RESPONDENTS:

(a) Oberweis Dairy, Inc.

(b) Robert Renaut, President and CEO of Oberweis Dairy, Inc.

(c) James D. Oberweis

(d) Oberweis for U.S. Senate 2004 and Joseph M. Weigand, in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Tim Timony

SUBJECT:

Corporate contribution, failure to disclose all receipts

DISPOSITION:

(a-d)Reason to believe

Conciliation agreement: $21,000 civil penalty

Oberweis Dairy, Inc. (Oberweis Dairy) is a family-owned business serving Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.  James D. Oberweis, the Chairman of Oberweis Dairy, was a Senate candidate in Illinois in 2004.  According to the complaint, Oberweis Dairy made, and Oberweis for U.S. Senate 2004 (the Committee) received, prohibited corporate in-kind contributions.  The complaint alleged Oberweis Dairy ran coordinated television advertisements featuring James D. Oberweis that were targeted to Illinois voters within 120 days of the Illinois Primary election held on March 16, 2004.  The complaint also alleged the Committee utilized Oberweis Dairy employees and facilities to arrange fundraising events and organize a “meet and greet” sweepstakes.

In the summer of 2003, Oberweis Dairy began its first television advertisement campaign, broadcasting the “Sunny Side Up” ad featuring James Oberweis on Chicago area local and cable television shows from December 2003 to January 2004.  Oberweis Dairy spent approximately $6,224 on production costs for the ad and an additional $37,630 for airtime costs.

The Commission found reason to believe respondents violated the Act because the “Sunny Side Up” ad met the requirements of the Commission’s coordinated communication regulation and therefore constituted an in-kind contribution from Oberweis Dairy to Oberweis for U.S. Senate 2004.  Respondents contended they acted in good faith and on the advice of counsel and agreed to pay a $21,000 civil penalty to avoid protracted litigation.

A Statement of Reasons from Commissioner von Spakovsky is available at http://www.fec.gov/members/von_Spakovsky/vonSpakovsky_sor.shtml.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5410 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

2.

MURs 5722

RESPONDENTS:

Friends for Lauzen and Lee Holmes, in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Lisa Pierce

SUBJECT:

Use of nonfederal funds for testing the waters activities, failure to register a Federal political committee and comply with reporting requirements

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss with admonishment the allegations relating to the funding of testing the waters activities and find no reason to believe with respect to the registration and reporting allegations.

The complaint alleged Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen may have violated the Act by using funds from Friends for Lauzen, a state campaign committee, to pay for a telephone poll used to test the waters for a potential bid for U.S. Congress.  The complainant further alleged she received an email from Lauzen for Congress that would normally be sent from Senator Lauzen, and questioned whether Lauzen for Congress should have registered and reported as a Federal political committee.

The committee identified testing the waters for Federal office as one of many purposes for the telephone poll.  The total cost of the poll was $12,750 and the amount of the violation would be equal to the allocable Federal share of the poll’s costs.  The email at issue related exclusively to state matters, and the state committee asserted that any reference to an alleged congressional committee was an inadvertent vendor error that was corrected promptly.

Mr. Lauzen never became a Federal candidate and there is no information suggesting that he has conducted any other testing the waters activities.  Taking this information into consideration along with the relatively small amount at issue, the Commission dismissed the allegations regarding testing the waters and admonished the respondents.  The Commission found no reason to believe that Mr. Lauzen violated any registration or reporting requirements of the Act. 

 

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5722 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

3.

MURs 5761

RESPONDENTS:

(a) Madrid for Congress and Rita Longino, in her official capacity as treasurer

(b) Patricia Madrid

(c) Justice for America

COMPLAINANT:

Senator Pete Domenici (NM)

SUBJECT:

Use of nonfederal funds in connection with a Federal election, making or receiving prohibited or excessive contributions, failure to disclose testing the waters activity

DISPOSITION:

(a-c) No reason to believe

Patricia Madrid was the Attorney General for the State of New Mexico when she announced her candidacy for Congress in New Mexico’s First district on October 18, 2005.  Justice for America (JFA), a State political action committee, was founded by Ms. Madrid.  The complaint alleged that Ms. Madrid violated the Act because JFA remained active after she declared her candidacy for Federal office.  The complaint further alleged Ms. Madrid retained control of JFA’s nonfederal funds through her husband who was the President of JFA, and used the funds for testing the waters activities while she was deciding whether to run for Congress.

Respondents asserted that Ms. Madrid had no involvement in JFA’s operations after she became a Federal candidate and that JFA ceased active operations immediately after she filed her Statement of Candidacy with the FEC. 

The Commission found no reason to believe Patricia Madrid or Madrid for Congress violated the Act by soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring or spending nonfederal funds in connection with an election for Federal office.  The Commission found no reason to believe JFA violated any provisions of the Act.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5761 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

4.

MURs 5768

RESPONDENTS:

Boswell for Congress (IA/03)

COMPLAINANT:

Cullen Sheehan

SUBJECT:

Prohibited in-kind corporate contribution

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss the matter and take no further action

The complaint alleged West Central Cooperative (WCC) made an in-kind contribution to Boswell for Congress in the form of a fundraising invitation which was created on WCC stationery and sent to potential contributors.  The invitation produced by WCC was for a lunch reception to benefit Congressman Leonard Boswell (IA/03).

WCC admitted to creating and mailing 52 fundraising invitations for the luncheon and stated that it intended for the invitation to be printed on its political action committee’s stationery.  Corrective action was taken as soon as the error was discovered and Boswell for Congress reimbursed WCC $59.16 for costs related to the invitations.

The Commission determined this matter did not warrant further review based on Enforcement Priority System criteria and dismissed the allegations.**

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5768 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

5.

MURs 5797

RESPONDENTS:

Guillame de Ramel

COMPLAINANT:

Ralph A. Mollis

SUBJECT:

Contribution in the name of another

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss the matter and take no further action

The complainant alleged Mr. Guillame de Ramel, who was a candidate for Rhode Island Secretary of State, made a $1,000 contribution on his wife’s behalf to the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign committee from his individual bank account. 

The Commission determined this matter did not warrant further review based on Enforcement Priority System criteria and dismissed the allegations.**

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5797 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

6.

MURs 5839

RESPONDENTS:

Blessinger for Congress (NY/04)

COMPLAINANT:

George Burke

SUBJECT:

Failure to include adequate disclaimers

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss the matter and take no further action.

The complaint alleged Blessinger for Congress, the principal campaign committee of Martin Blessinger (NY/04), failed to report initial campaign expenses exceeding the $5,000 threshold for candidate registration with the Commission.  The complainant alleged the Committee failed to report over $42,000 in campaign expenses and in-kind contributions.  The Committee claimed it did not exceed the $5,000 reporting threshold until July 17, 2006, and reported July activity on its 2006 October Quarterly report.

The Commission noted that the Committee accurately reflected its total financial activity at the first opportunity the expenses could be reported and dismissed the allegations after determining the matter did not warrant further review based on Enforcement Priority System criteria.**

 

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5839 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. NW in Washington.

7.

MURs 5899

RESPONDENTS:

New York Bankers Association Community PAC and Karen Jannetty, in her official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Sua sponte submission (Self-Reported)

SUBJECT:

Failure to comply with solicitation restrictions

DISPOSITION:

Dismiss the matter and take no further action.

The New York Bankers Association (NYBA) acquired the assets of Community Bankers Association of New York (CBANYS), including its political action committee, which was then known as CBANYS PAC but was renamed NYBA Community PAC (the PAC).  On the date of the acquisition, the PAC had $108,008.66 in cash on hand and had made no contributions or disbursements or engaged in any fundraising activity since the acquisition. 

After receiving a letter from the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division requesting additional information about a reported receipt, the PAC conducted a comprehensive audit of the former CBANYS PAC.  The audit revealed certain irregularities in CBANYS PAC’s solicitations efforts and NYBA was unable to determine that all funds were in compliance with the Act. 

Violations appear to have occurred before NYBA acquired CBANYS and its PAC.  NYBA initiated the comprehensive review of CBANYS PAC, voluntarily making the results available to the FEC and taking corrective action to address discovered problems.  The Commission dismissed the matter and closed the file, taking these facts into consideration.

 

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5899 under case numbers 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
2. Reason to believe stage
3. Probable cause stage
4. Conciliation stage

FEC decisions require the votes of at least four of its six Commissioners.

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.

**The Enforcement Priority System (EPS) rates all incoming cases against objective criteria to determine whether they warrant use of the Commission’s limited resources.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

# # #