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Weekly Digest

 

For Immediate Release

Contact

Judith Ingram

January 13, 2012

Julia Queen
  Christian Hilland
   
 

ISSUE 2012-02

Weekly Digest

Week of January 9 – 13

COMMISSION MEETINGS

On January 12, the Commission held an Open Meeting. Click here for agendas and related documents for open meetings. Click here for audio recordings for selected meetings, hearings and presentations.

ADVISORY OPINIONS

Advisory Opinion Considered

AOR 2011-24 (StandLouder.com). On January 12, the Commission discussed an advisory opinion request from Louder Solutions, LLC, a for-profit limited liability company that plans to establish a web application through the website StandLouder.com that will allow users to post and fund proposed advertisements. In its advisory opinion request, StandLouder indicates that it will receive a license from content creators to, among other services, facilitate funding, provide technical compliance, and determine the time and placement of the ads.StandLouder.com anticipates that the advertisements will relate to topics including political and social issues as well as candidates for federal office. The request posed questions regarding whether its proposed business model would trigger political committee status and also whether StandLouder.com could identify itself in disclaimers and disclosure reports as the entity that paid for the advertisements. After discussion of the request and several draft responses, the Commission decided to hold it over until the Commission’s next Open Session, which is scheduled for January 19, 2012.

Drafts

AO 2011-25 (Atlas Air). On January 13, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2011-25. The requestor, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, Inc., asks whether certain employees of its U.S. subsidiaries who maintain inactive membership in a labor union qualify as members of the requestor's "restricted class," such that they may be solicited for contributions to the requestor's separate segregated fund. Comments on the draft are due by noon on January 18. This advisory opinion is on the agenda for the Commission’s January 19, 2012, Open Session.

AO 2011-26 (Martin H. Freeman). On January 13, the Commission made public a draft of Advisory Opinion 2011-26. Martin H. Freeman intends to raise funds to cover expenses associated with (1) identifying citizens who do not possess photo IDs in states that require citizens to present a photo ID to vote or register to vote, and (2) assisting those citizens in obtaining photo IDs. Freeman asks whether his proposed activity is covered by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, (the Act), and Commission regulations. Comments on the draft are due by noon on January 18. This advisory opinion is on the agenda for the Commission’s January 19, 2012, Open Session.

 AO 2011- 27 (New Mexico Voices for Children). On January 13, the Commission made public two drafts of Advisory Opinion 2011-27, submitted by New Mexico Voices for Children. The requestor asks whether it may make a severance payment to a former employee who is running for Congress. Comments on the draft are due by noon on January 18. This advisory opinion is on the agenda for the Commission’s January 19, 2012, Open Session.

AO 2011-28 (Western Representation PAC). On January 13, the Commission made public two drafts of Advisory Opinion 2011-28. Western Representation PAC intends to place ads on Facebook during the 2012 Republican presidential primary season that expressly advocate the election or defeat of clearly identified candidates. Some ads will refer to specific primary elections while most will not. Western Representation PAC asks whether it (1) must include the costs of these ads on its 24- and 48-hour reports, and (2) must attribute these costs to individual state primary elections on its regular monthly reports. Comments on the draft are due by noon on January 18.    This advisory opinion is on the agenda for the Commission’s January 19, 2012, Open Session.

Requests Received

AOR 2012-01 (Stop This Insanity, Inc. Employee Leadership Fund). On January 11, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2012-01 from Stop This Insanity, Inc. Employee Leadership Fund (ELF), a separate segregated fund.  ELF maintains an account consisting of funds subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of the Act, which are solicited from the restricted class of its connected organization, Stop This Insanity, Inc. (STI).  ELF asks whether it may open a separate non-contribution account, or "Carey Account," into which it would solicit unlimited contributions from STI's restricted class as well as other STI employees and members of the general public, including individuals, political committees, corporations, and labor organizations. Funds in ELF's Carey Account would be used to finance independent expenditures. The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after receipt of the complete request, that is, by March 5, 2012.

AOR 2012-02 (Wawa, Inc.). On January 12, the Commission made public Advisory Opinion Request 2012-02 (Wawa, Inc.).  The requestor asks the Commission to clarify whether certain Wawa managerial employees fall within the restricted class of persons whom the requestor may solicit at any time for contributions to its separate segregated fund.  The Commission must issue a response no later than 60 days after receipt of the complete request, that is, by March 12, 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 the following closed case:

MUR 6431
RESPONDENTS:  New Hampshire Republican Senate Majority Committee
COMPLAINANT:  Raymond Buckley
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that the Republican Senate Majority Committee (RSMC), a state political committee, made expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 in connection with federal elections but failed to register with the Commission as a political committee. The complaint alleged further that RSMC accepted contributions from prohibited sources and failed to include a written disclaimer on advertisements containing express advocacy, indicating whether these communications were authorized by a candidate or authorized committee.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe RSMC failed to organize, register and report as a political committee because there was no reason to believe that its major purpose was the nomination or election of a Federal candidate. The Commission closed the file in connection with the remaining allegations. A Statement of Reasons was issued by Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub and Commissioners Cynthia L. Bauerly and Steven T. Walther.

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

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

The Commission made public two campaign finance enforcement matters that were resolved through its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program.

ADR 575 – Vern Buchanan for Congress and Joseph R. Gruters, in his official capacity as treasurer. The respondent agreed to (1) implement compliance measures, (2) send a representative to an FEC conference and (3) pay a civil penalty of $1,500.

ADR 577 – National Right to Life Political Action Committee and Joseph M. Landrum, in his official capacity as treasurer. The respondent agreed to (1) implement compliance measures and (2) pay a civil penalty of $3,250.

For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

LITIGATION

Bluman v. FEC (Civ. No. 11-275). On January 9, the Supreme Court summarily affirmed the three-judge court’s decision to grant the Commission's motion to dismiss and deny plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment.

CREW v. FEC (No. 11-cv-00951(CKK)). On January 9, the plaintiff filed a Notice of Appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The plaintiff is appealing the district court’s order granting the Commission’s Motion for Summary Judgment.

Schonberg v. FEC (No. 11-5199). On January 13, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order granting the United States' unopposed motion to dismiss the remainder of the appeal. Schonberg challenged the constitutionality of provisions of the Act, the statute governing representational allowances for Members of the House of Representatives, and legislation commonly referred to as “earmarks.”

Van Hollen v. FEC (No. 1:11-cv-00766 (ABJ)). On January 11, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson heard oral argument regarding the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment.  The motions were heard and taken under advisement.

Vogel for Congress v. FEC (No. 11-cv-02309(RWR)). On December 30, 2011, a complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by Vogel for Congress. The plaintiff asks the court to review the Commission’s decision to dismiss an administrative complaint filed with the Commission by Vogel for Congress against the Indiana Democratic Party.

OUTREACH

On January 10, Communications Specialist Isaac Baker discussed Commission operations and campaign finance regulations with political party leaders from Armenia as part of the State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program.

On January 9, Communication Specialists Kathy Carothers and Dorothy Yeager gave a presentation at the American League of Lobbyists' PAC Training Program. Their presentation focused on the Commission’s registration, reporting and fundraising rules for separate segregated funds.

REPORTS ANALYSIS

On January 12, the Commission unveiled a new web page to provide political committees involved in federal elections with information on the practices and procedures of the Reports Analysis Division (RAD), which helps committees report on their campaign finance activity accurately and in a timely manner, and reviews financial disclosure reports submitted to the Commission.  The new page is segmented by filer type to address easily the reporting and filing needs of candidate and party committees, PACs, and other filers, and provides helpful links and reporting resources to assist the filing community with disclosure requirements.  RAD’s 38 analysts are tasked with reviewing some 50,000 financial reports per year.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Discusses Advisory Opinion, Announces Reports Analysis Division Web Page and New Feature of its Conciliation Practice (issued January 12)

FEC Announces Reports Analysis Division Web Page, New Feature Of Its Conciliation Practice (issued January 13)

CONFERENCES

On January 11, the Commission hosted Roundtable Workshops on FEC Reporting Requirements.

On January 11, the Commission hosted Roundtable Workshops on FECFile & E-Filing.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES

February 22-23, Miami, Florida, Regional Conference for Campaigns, Party Committees and Corporate/Labor/Trade PACs. Registration information and schedule are on the Educational Outreach page (link) of the Commission website.

For information regarding additional upcoming conferences and seminars, click here.

UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS

January 19: The Commission is scheduled to hold an Open Session.

UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES

January 31: Year-end Reports are due. For more information on reporting dates, refer to the Reporting page of the Commission website.

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.

The August 2011 updated version of the Commission's Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees is available online. Printed copies of the updated Guide are also 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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