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For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Bob Biersack

February 26, 2008

George Smaragdis

Michelle Ryan

Completed FEC Enforcement Actions Include Total of $100,100 in Civil Penalties 

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission (FEC/the Commission) today announced final action in seven enforcement cases, four of which led to civil penalties totaling $100,100.

The Commission completed action in these matters in 2007 and documents from these cases have now been included on the public record.  Detailed information on all FEC enforcement actions is available through the Enforcement Query System at http://eqs.fec.gov/eqs/searcheqs.

In Matter Under Review (MUR) 5916, the Colorado Democratic Party (CDP) agreed to pay a civil penalty of $45,000 for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (the Act) reporting requirements.  During 2003 and 2004, the committee misreported receipts and disbursements on FEC disclosure reports.  CDP failed to report $325,700.98 in receipts and disbursements in its original 2003 Mid-Year Report; $360,316.00 in receipts in its original 2004 October Monthly Report; $949,253.86 in receipts and disbursements in its original 2004 Pre-General Report; and $575,213.38 in receipts in its original 2004 Post-General Report.  As part of a conciliation agreement with the Commission, the committee agreed to pay the civil penalty and cease and desist from committing future similar violations.

In MUR 5741, the Charlie Melancon Campaign Committee, Inc., the principal campaign committee of 2004 Congressional candidate Charles Melancon (LA/03), agreed to pay a civil penalty of $42,000 for failing to disclose all financial activity on its 2004 30 Day Post-Runoff Report.  The committee originally disclosed $50,971.78 in disbursements on its Post-Runoff Report.  An amended version of the report later disclosed $656,823.30 in additional disbursements.  The committee agreed to pay the civil penalty and cease and desist from committing future similar violations.

In MUR 5917, Simmons for Congress, the principal campaign committee of 2006 Congressional candidate Rob Simmons (CT/02), agreed to pay a civil penalty of $9,500 for failing to disclose all financial activity on its 2006 12 Day Pre-General Report.  The committee originally disclosed $316,153.13 in disbursements on its Pre-General Report.  An amended version of the report later disclosed $225,018 in additional disbursements.  The committee agreed to pay the civil penalty and cease and desist from committing future similar violations.

In MUR 5889, Republicans for Trauner (RFT), a committee active in the 2006 general election for U.S. Representative from Wyoming, agreed to pay a $3,600 civil penalty for violating multiple provisions of the Act.  RFT included the name of House candidate Gary Trauner (WY), but was not an authorized campaign committee.  During the 2006 election cycle, RFT funded newspaper and radio ads and mailed flyers to homes throughout the state of Wyoming expressly advocating Trauner’s election.  The Commission found reason to believe RFT violated the Act by using the name of a federal candidate in the name of an unauthorized committee, failing to include adequate disclaimers on public communications, failing to register with the Commission in a timely manner, failing to file FEC disclosure reports on time and accepting excessive and corporate contributions.

In MUR 5874, the FEC found no reason to believe the Gunowners of America (GOA) violated the Act.  The complaint alleged GOA made prohibited in-kind contributions to federal candidates by expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates in a 2006 voter guide that appeared on its web site and was included as a link in e-mail action alerts.  The Commission determined the voter guide did not violate the Act because it did not contain words or explicit directives that urged the election of any identified candidates.

In MUR 5875, the FEC found no reason to believe the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its political action committee, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRAPVF), violated the Act by making in-kind contributions to federal candidates by expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates.  The complaint primarily concerned activities conducted by the NRAPVF during October of 2006 on portions of its web site that were available to the general public and were not password protected.  The complaint alleged those portions of the web site engaged in activities that should only have been accessible to NRA members.  The Commission concluded that the action alerts and links were permissible under federal campaign finance law.

In MUR 5876, a complaint alleged that the Bowman for Congress Campaign Committee, the principal campaign committee of Dr. Robert Bowman (FL/15), violated the Act by using the resources of the Institute for Space and Security Studies (ISSS), a tax exempt organization, to produce and mail a newsletter supporting Bowman’s candidacy.  The committee denied any use of ISSS resources, but indicated that it had used the non-profit organization mailing permit of a firm ISSS used for mailings when the committee mailed campaign materials.  The committee promptly reimbursed the U.S. Post Office when it became aware of the violation.  The FEC admonished the campaign committee and took no further action.

Under the law, the FEC must attempt to resolve its enforcement cases or Matters Under Review 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 web site 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 web site at http://eqs.fec.gov/eqs/searcheqs.

1.

MUR 5916

RESPONDENTS:

Colorado Democratic Party and Mark Ferrandino in his official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (Reports Analysis Division)

SUBJECT:

Failure to disclose all financial activity

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation agreement: $45,000 civil penalty

The matter originated from information ascertained by the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) in the normal course of its review responsibilities.  According to the RAD referral, the Colorado Democratic Party failed to disclose all financial activity on several 2003 and 2004 disclosure reports.

The committee filed its original 2003 Mid-Year Report on July 30, 2003.  In January of 2004 and June of 2004, the committee filed amendments to that report disclosing additional receipts totaling $99,027.25 and additional disbursements totaling $226,673.73.  In October of 2004, the committee filed its original October Monthly Report and filed an amendment to the report in August of 2005, disclosing an additional $360,316.00 in receipts.  In October of 2004, the committee filed an original 2004 Pre-General Election Report.  The committee amended the Pre-General Election Report five times, disclosing an additional $211,668.71 in receipts and $737,585.15 in disbursements.  The committee filed an original 2004 Post-General Election Report in December of 2004 and later filed six amended versions of the report, disclosing an additional $575,213.38 in disbursements.  In January of 2004, respondents filed an original 2003 Year-End Report.  The report was later amended to disclose an ending cash-on-hand balance of $99,994.64.   In April of 2004, the committee filed its original April Quarterly Report.  The committee later amended the April Quarterly, disclosing that its beginning cash-on-hand balance was $30,526.67.  There was a discrepancy between the reported cash-on-hand totaling $69,671.71.

The committee contended that the errors and omissions in disclosure were not intentional.  The committee also contended that steps were taken to ensure that such mistakes did not occur again.

The Commission found reason to believe the respondents violated the Act by failing to comply with the Act’s reporting requirements.  Respondents agreed to pay a civil penalty of $45,000 and to cease and desist from committing future similar violations.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5916 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. in Washington.

2.

MUR 5741

RESPONDENTS:

Charlie Melancon Campaign Committee, Inc., and Jess J. Waguespack in her official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (Reports Analysis Division)

SUBJECT:

Failure to disclose all financial activity

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation agreement: $42,000 civil penalty

The matter originated from information ascertained by the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) in the normal course of its review responsibilities.  According to the RAD referral, the Charlie Melancon Campaign Committee, Inc., the principal campaign committee of 2004 Congressional candidate Charles Melancon (LA/03), failed to disclose all financial activity on its 2004 30 Day Post-Runoff Report.

On January 3, 2005, the committee disclosed disbursements of $50,971.78 on its 2004 30 Day Post-Runoff Report.  Later that month, the committee submitted an amended version of the report disclosing additional disbursements of $656,823.30.

The committee stated that the increased activity in the amended report was caused by a staffing change during that time.  The committee further stated that the matter was investigated and the report was amended upon discovery of the error.

The Commission found reason to believe the respondents failed to comply with the Act’s reporting requirements.  Respondents agreed to pay a civil penalty of $42,000 and to cease and desist from committing future similar violations.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5741 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. in Washington.

3.

MUR 5917

RESPONDENTS:

Simmons for Congress and Anne Simeone in her official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

FEC Initiated (Reports Analysis Division)

SUBJECT:

Failure to disclose all financial activity

DISPOSITION:

Conciliation agreement:  $9,500 civil penalty

The matter originated from information ascertained by the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) in the normal course of its review responsibilities.  According to the RAD referral, Simmons for Congress, the principal campaign committee of 2006 Congressional candidate Rob Simmons (CT/02), failed to disclose all financial activity on its 2006 12 Day Pre-General Report.

In October 2006, the committee filed its original Pre-General Report disclosing disbursements totaling $316,150.13.  The committee amended the Report in November, disclosing an additional $225,018 in disbursements.

The Commission found reason to believe Simmons for Congress violated the Act and reached a conciliation agreement with the respondents in which they agreed to cease and desist from committing future similar violations and to pay a civil penalty of $9,500.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5917 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. in Washington.

4.

MUR 5889

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Republicans for Trauner and Roger Shanor in his official capacity as treasurer

b.)  J. Nichols Patrick

c.)  Stephen Simonton

COMPLAINANT:

Bill Maiers

SUBJECT:

Use of candidate’s name by non-authorized political committee, failure to register timely, failure to file timely disclosure reports, receipt of excessive and prohibited contributions, failure to include adequate disclaimers on public communications

DISPOSITION

Conciliation agreement:  $3,600

The matter originated from a complaint filed with the Commission.  The complaint alleged that Republicans for Trauner (RFT), a committee active in the 2006 House general election race in Wyoming, failed to report electioneering communications, failed to file a statement of organization with the FEC and failed to disclose receipts and disbursements with the Commission.

RFT included the name of Gary Trauner, but was not authorized by him to raise funds for his campaign.  The group funded radio and newspaper advertisements and mailed flyers to 22,000 homes in Wyoming expressly advocating Trauner’s election.  The newspaper advertisement and flyer in question also called for the defeat of his opponent, Representative Barbara Cubin.  RFT’s advertisements failed to include adequate disclaimers.

Commission review of disclosure reports showed that RFT exceeded the $1,000 registration threshold on September 28, 2006.  RFT registered with the Commission on November 2, 2006, failing to file its Statement of Organization (Form 1) with the FEC within 10 days of meeting the filing threshold. 

Additionally, RFT failed to file 24-Hour Independent Expenditure reports.  On its Post-General Election Report, RFT disclosed that it made independent expenditures totaling $26,622.52.  Independent expenditures totaling $24,894.52 should have been disclosed in 24-Hour Reports because those expenditures were made within 20 days of the election.  RFT’s reports also revealed the acceptance of excessive contributions and prohibited corporate contributions.

RFT contended they had no prior experience or expertise with federal election law and that their violations were oversights that were not intended to violate the Act.  RFT further contended that, upon the discovery of violations, they promptly made efforts to bring the committee into compliance.

The Commission found reason to believe the respondents violated the Act by using the name of a federal candidate in the name of an unauthorized committee, failing to include adequate disclaimers on public communications, failing to register in a timely manner with the FEC, failing to file timely disclosure reports and accepting excessive contributions and corporate contributions.  RFT agreed to pay a $3,600 civil penalty and to cease and desist from committing future similar violations.

DOCUMENTS ON PUBLIC RECORD:

Documents from this matter are available from the Commission’s web site at http://www.fec.gov by entering 5889 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. in Washington.

5.

MUR 5874

RESPONDENTS:

Gunowners of America

COMPLAINANT:

Christopher F. Carr, President of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

SUBJECT:

In-kind contributions in the form of express advocacy communications

DISPOSITION

No reason to believe

The complainant alleged that Gunowners of America (GOA) violated the Act by making prohibited in-kind contributions to federal candidates by expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates to the general public. 

According to the complaint, GOA’s web site, www.gunowners.org, which is available to the general public and is not password protected, contained a 2006 voter guide that expressly advocated the election or defeat of federal candidates.  The complaint also alleged that a “corporate action alert” e-mail, distributed to GOA members and “subscribers,” referred the reader to the voter guide and also contained express advocacy.

The Commission determined that the voter guide did not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate because it did not contain words or explicit directives that urge the election or defeat of any of the identified candidates.  Similarly, the Commission determined that the e-mail alert, which linked to the voter guide, referenced the upcoming election but did not contain express advocacy.  The Commission found no evidence of coordination between GOA and any federal candidates.

The Commission found no reason to believe GOA violated 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 5874 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. in Washington.

6.

MUR 5875

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  National Rifle Association

b.)  National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund and Mary

Rose Adkins in her official capacity as treasurer

COMPLAINANT:

Christopher F. Carr, President of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

SUBJECT:

In-kind contributions in the form of express advocacy communications

DISPOSITION:

No reason to believe

The complainant alleged that the National Rifle Association (NRA) and its political action committee, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund (NRAPVF), violated the Act by making prohibited in-kind contributions to federal candidates by expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates to the general public.

The complaint primarily concerned activities conducted by the NRAPVF during October of 2006 on portions of its web site that were available to the general public and were not password protected.  These activities included endorsing candidates; encouraging the public to vote for endorsed candidates; publicizing and encouraging the distribution of advertising targeting specific races; including information regarding voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives and a tool to allow the general public to e-mail others to publicize the NRAPVF web site.  The complaint also alleged that the NRAPVF posted action alerts on numerous other web sites directing visitors to the NRAPVF web site and that the NRA provided a link to the NRAPVF web site on its own web site and in corporate action alerts e-mailed to recipients beyond its restricted class.

The FEC review did not find evidence that NRAPVF solicited contributions on any portion of its web site available to the general public and there was no evidence to suggest that NRAPVF paid for the communications on the portion of its web site available to the general public with anything other than voluntary contributions.  The Commission determined that the communications in question on the committee’s web site were permissible for NRAPVF to fund.  The Commission concluded the action alerts posted on other web sites were permissible so long as NRPVF paid for the postings with voluntary contributions and reported them to the FEC.  The Commission also concluded that the NRA links to the NRAPVF web site on its own web site and in its corporate action alerts were permissible since they linked to the NRAPVF homepage which did not contain express advocacy or other electoral content dealing with the election, and the cost of the link was likely too small to warrant action.

The Commission found no reason to believe the NRA or its political action committee, NRAPVF, violated 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 5875 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. in Washington.

7.

MUR 5876

RESPONDENTS:

a.)  Bowman for Congress Campaign Committee and Teresa Katz in her official capacity as treasurer

b.)  Institute for Space and Security Studies

c.)  Discount Newsletter Printing

COMPLAINANT:

Michael Kahn

SUBJECT:

Prohibited in-kind contribution

DISPOSITION:

a-c.)  Dismiss as a matter of prosecutorial discretion and admonish

The complaint alleged the Bowman for Congress Campaign Committee, the principal campaign committee of 2006 Congressional candidate Dr. Robert Bowman (FL/15), violated the Act by using the resources of the Institute for Space and Security Studies (ISSS), a tax exempt organization, to support Bowman’s election to office.  The complaint specifically alleged that ISSS distributed by mail, using its non-profit organization paid postal privilege, a newsletter entitled National Security News, which was entirely dedicated to expressly advocating Dr. Bowman’s election to federal office. 

Since the 1980’s, ISSS has published Space & Security News, a newsletter to subscribers on topics related to space and technology issues affecting national security.  ISSS did not have its own non-profit mailing permit and used the services of Discount Newsletter Printing, Inc., to mail its publication.

The committee acknowledged that National Security News was a campaign communication, but denied that any of ISSS’ resources were used to produce or mail the publication.  The committee indicated that it used Discount Newsletter Printing, Inc.’s, non-profit organization mailing permit.  The committee stated that it promptly reimbursed the U.S. Post Office when it became aware that campaign materials must be mailed using standard postal rates.

The Commission 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 5876 under case numbers in the Enforcement Query System. They are also available in the FEC’s Public Records Office at 999 E St. N.W. 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.

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