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Weekly Digest

 

For Immediate Release

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Judith Ingram

November 25, 2011

Julia Queen
  Christian Hilland
  Mary Brandenberger
 
   
 

ISSUE 2011-47

          

Weekly Digest

Week of November 21 – 25

COMMISSION MEETINGS

No Commission Executive Sessions or Open Meetings were scheduled this week.

ADVISORY OPINIONS

Drafts

AO 2011-21 (Constitutional Conservatives Fund PAC). On November 23, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2011-21. The Constitutional Conservatives Fund PAC (CCF), a leadership PAC sponsored by Senator Michael Lee, asks whether it may establish a "non-contribution" account for the purpose of accepting unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations, and labor organizations, which it will use to finance independent expenditures expressly advocating the election or defeat of federal candidates other than Senator Lee. CCF also plans to maintain a separate federal account consisting of funds subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, (the Act) for the purpose of making direct contributions to federal candidates. Comments on the draft are due by noon on November 30.

AO 2011-23 (American Crossroads). On November 23, the Commission made public four drafts of Advisory Opinion 2011-23. American Crossroads, an independent expenditure-only political committee registered with the Commission, asks whether it may produce and distribute certain television and radio advertisements. The request asks whether these ads would constitute coordinated communications under 11 CFR 109.21 or coordinated expenditures under 11 CFR 109.20. Comments on the drafts are due by noon on November 30.

Requests Received

AOR 2011-24 (StandLouder.com). On November 23, the Commission made public AOR 2011-24 from Louder Solutions LLC (the Company), which has established a web application called StandLouder.com (the Website). The Website enables users to submit proposed advertisements relating to any topic, including politics and elections. The Company asks questions regarding political committee status and disclaimer and disclosure obligations. The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after the complete request, that is, by January 23, 2012.

Advisory Opinions and Requests are available through the Advisory Opinions search page in the Law and Regulations section of the Commission website.

ENFORCEMENT

The Commission made public two closed cases.

MUR 6137    
RESPONDENT:  Informed Catholic Citizens
COMPLAINANT:  Rebecca Kratz
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that Informed Catholic Citizens (ICC), a group formed under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, made prohibited corporate expenditures for a series of recorded telephone calls that constituted express advocacy and failed to report the cost of the calls as independent expenditures. The complaint also questioned whether ICC was required to register and report with the Commission as a political committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe that one of the recorded telephone calls disseminated by ICC contained express advocacy and that ICC failed to include a full disclaimer on the call and file the required independent expenditure report. The Commission subsequently closed the file in connection with this issue. The Commission found no reason to believe that ICC made a prohibited corporate expenditure in light of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. The Commission closed the file in connection with the allegation that ICC was required to register and report with the Commission as a political committee. The Commission sent a letter reminding ICC to take steps to ensure its conduct is in compliance with the Act and Commission regulations. A Statement of Reasons was issued by Chair Cynthia L. Bauerly, Commissioner Steven T. Walther and Commissioner Ellen L Weintraub.

MUR 6138
RESPONDENTS: Honeycutt for Congress and Scott Mackenzie, in his official capacity as treasurer; Andrew Honeycutt; Democrats for Good Government; and David Knox
COMPLAINANT: Kwame Vidal, campaign manager of David Scott for Congress
SUBJECT: The complaint alleged that (1) Honeycutt for Congress and Mackenzie, in his official capacity as treasurer, (HFC) and Honeycutt failed to provide a proper disclaimer on a communication, (2) HFC failed to disclose its payment for printing that communication, and (3) Democrats for Good Government (DGG) and Knox failed to include a disclaimer on another communication and disclose the payment for it as an independent expenditure. The complaint alleged further that DGG failed to register and report as a political committee even though, by receiving contributions and making an expenditure in excess of $1,000, it met the threshold for political committee status. The complaint also alleged that HFC and DGG fraudulently misrepresented themselves as acting on behalf of the Democratic Party.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found reason to believe HFC and Honeycutt failed to provide a proper disclaimer on a communication and to disclose payment for that communication in a timely manner. The Commission also found reason to believe DGG and Knox failed to include a disclaimer for a communication and to disclose payment for it as an independent expenditure. In view of the limited scope and cost of the activity and unavailability of evidence that the two communications were “public communications,” which would have made them subject to the Act’s disclaimer requirements, the Commission exercised its prosecutorial discretion and took no further action in connection with the reason to believe findings above. The Commission also exercised its prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation that DGG failed to register and report as a political committee in light of its limited conduct and apparent minimal costs spent toward a communication, and the Commission sent letters reminding HFC and to DGG to take steps to ensure their conduct is in compliance with the Act and Commission regulations. The Commission closed the file in connection with the allegation that HFC and DGG fraudulently misrepresented themselves in a communication.

For information regarding the above matters, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

LITIGATION

Bluman v. FEC (No. 11-275). On November 21, appellants filed an Opposition to Motion to Dismiss or Affirm in the United States Supreme Court.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REPORTS

Reporting Dates. The Commission has added a "Looking Ahead to 2012" section on the Reporting Dates web page, linking the charts outlining the currently scheduled 2012 independent expenditure, electioneering communications, coordinated communications and Federal Election Activity periods, and Congressional pre-primary report deadlines. Many election dates are still pending; the charts will be updated as additional election dates come in.

UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS

November 29: The Commission is scheduled to hold an Executive Session.

December 1: The Commission is scheduled to hold an Open Session.

OTHER RESOURCES

The Record is in the Publications section of the Commission website. Sign up to receive email notification when a new issue of the Record is posted.

Printed copies of the August 2011 updated version of the Commission's Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees are now available free of charge from the Commission's Information Division. To order, call (800)424-9530 (press 6) or send an email to info@fec.gov.

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