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Weekly Digest

 

For Immediate Release

Contact

Judith Ingram

March 2, 2012

Julia Queen
  Christian Hilland
   
 

ISSUE 2012-09

Weekly Digest

Week of February 27 – March 2

COMMISSION MEETINGS

On February 28, the Commission held an Executive Session. Click here for Sunshine Act Notices for Executive Sessions.

On March 1, 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 Opinions Issued

AO 2012-04 (Justice Party of Mississippi). On March 1, the Commission concluded that the Justice Party of Mississippi (JPMS) will qualify as a state committee of a political party when a JPMS nominee for federal office whose name appears on the election ballot qualifies as a "candidate" under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, (the Act) and Commission regulations. A state party organization not affiliated with a national political party qualifies as a state committee of a political party if three criteria are met: (1) the state party organization itself must qualify as a "political party"; (2) the state party organization itself must possess an official party structure; and (3) the state party organization must be responsible for the day-to-day operation of the party at the state level.

AO 2012-03 (ActRight). On March 1, the Commission concluded that ActRight, a nonconnected political committee, may solicit unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations, and labor organizations that are earmarked for nonconnected political committees that make only independent expenditures or nonconnected committees that accept the funds into a separate non-contribution account for the purpose of making independent expenditures, and ActRight may forward the earmarked contributions to those committees. ActRight will be required to forward contributions and contribution information to the treasurers of the recipient committees within the time frames as defined in the Act and Commission regulations and to comply with the Commission's reporting requirements.

Advisory Opinions Considered

AOR 2012-01 (Stop This Insanity, Inc. Employee Leadership Fund). On March 1, the Commission discussed and voted on two draft advisory opinions but did not reach consensus on either draft based on a request from Stop This Insanity, Inc. (STI), regarding the activities of STI’s separate segregated fund, the Employee Leadership Fund (ELF). ELF maintains an account consisting of funds subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of the Act, which are solicited from STI's restricted class. ELF asked whether it may open a separate non-contribution account into which STI and ELF 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 non-contribution account would be used to finance independent expenditures.

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 and three Statements of Reasons this week. For more information, see the case documents in the Enforcement Query System.

MUR 6357
RESPONDENTS:  American Crossroads and Margee Clancy, in her official capacity as treasurer; and Portman for Senate Committee and Natalie K. Baur, in her official capacity as treasurer
COMPLAINANT:  Chris Redfern, Chairman, Ohio Democratic Party
SUBJECT:  The complaint alleged that American Crossroads, an independent expenditure-only political committee, and Clancy, in her official capacity as treasurer, made an excessive contribution to Portman for Senate Committee and Baur, in her official capacity as treasurer, (the Committee) when it spent $454,341.80 to create and air a television advertisement that included video footage previously produced as part of the Committee’s campaign materials. The complaint alleged further that because American Crossroads made a contribution by republishing campaign materials, it was no longer permitted to avail itself of the exception to contribution limits for independent expenditure-only political committees and thus each subsequent contribution it accepted in excess of $5,000, or from a corporation, labor union, or other prohibited source resulted in a violation of campaign finance law.
DISPOSITION: The Commission found no reason to believe that the Committee accepted an excessive in-kind contribution from American Crossroads in the form of a coordinated communication because there was no information that respondents satisfied any of the tests for the conduct prong of the coordination regulation. The Commission closed the file in connection with the remaining allegations. Statements of Reasons were issued by Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Donald F. McGahn and Matthew S. Petersen and Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub and Commissioners Cynthia L. Bauerly and Steven T. Walther.

MUR 6508
RESPONDENTS:  Republican National Committee and Anthony W. Parker, in his official capacity as treasurer.
COMPLAINANT:  FEC-Initiated
SUBJECT:  In the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, the Commission found that the Republican National Committee and Parker, in his official capacity as treasurer, (the Committee) failed to disclose and itemize $9,232,930 in newly incurred debts on monthly reports in May-September 2010.
DISPOSITION: The Commission entered into a conciliation agreement whereby the Committee agreed to pay a civil penalty of $96,000.

MUR 5879 -- Henry Mitchell for Congress and John Bebbling, in his official capacity as treasurer; and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Jonathan S. Vogel, in his official capacity as treasurer. A Statement of Reasons was issued by Chair Caroline C. Hunter and Commissioners Donald F. McGahn and Matthew S. Petersen.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

The Commission made public one campaign finance enforcement matter that was resolved through its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program and a Statement of Reasons.

ADR 592– Committee to Re-elect Gary Jensen; Mayor of Ferndale and Fleetwood International Development Corporation. The Commission dismissed the case.  A Statement of Reasons was issued by Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub and Commissioners Cynthia L. Bauerly and Steven T. Walther.

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

AUDITS

Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum on Chris Dodd for President, Inc. On March 1, the Commission discussed the Audit Division’s recommendation memorandum on revisions to the Draft Final Audit Report on Chris Dodd for President, Inc., covering campaign finance activity between January 24, 2007 and September 30, 2008, and directed the Audit Division to prepare a Proposed Final Audit Report reflecting the Commission's discussion. The Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum proposed revisions to the findings of: (1) net outstanding campaign obligations; (2) the receipt of prohibited or excessive contributions; and (3) the misstatement of financial activity.

LITIGATION

Hassan v. FEC (No. 11-cv-02189(EGS)). On February 27, the Commission filed a Motion to Dismiss in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

FEC v. Kazran (No. 3:10-cv-1155 (RBD-JRK)). On February 27, the Commission filed a Joint Motion for Entry of Stipulated Order and Consent Judgment in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. On February 29, the court issued a final order granting the parties’ Joint Motion for Entry of Stipulated Order and Consent Judgment.

Wagner v. FEC (No. 11-cv-1841(JEB)). On February 17, the Commission filed an Answer to Plaintiffs' Amended Complaint in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. On March 1, the Commission filed an Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction.

OUTREACH

On February 27, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub discussed Commission operations and campaign finance regulations with students from American University's Washington Semester Program.

On February 28, Information Division Director Greg Scott spoke at the Public Affairs Council's National PAC Conference in Orlando, Florida.

On February 29, the Commission hosted an informal public forum on the Commission’s enforcement and advisory opinion processes.

PRESS RELEASES

FEC Approves Two Advisory Opinions, Discusses Audit Memorandum (issued March 1)

FEC to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Rules on Independent Expenditures and Electioneering Communications by Corporations and Labor Organizations (issued March 2)

UPCOMING COMMISSION MEETINGS

March 7: The Commission is scheduled to hold a public hearing on proposed changes to its rules regarding corporate and labor organization funding of expenditures, independent expenditures and electioneering communications. The hearing will start at 10 AM and take place in the Commission’s hearing room.

UPCOMING CONFERENCES

March 21, Washington, DC. Seminar/Webinar for House and Senate Campaigns and Political Party Committees. Registration information and the schedule are on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

April 25, Washington, DC. Seminar/Webinar for Corporations and their PACs.  Registration information and the schedule are on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.

May 23, Washington, DC. Seminar/Webinar for Trade Associations, Labor Organizations, Membership Organizations and their PACs. Registration information and the schedule are on the Educational Outreach page of the Commission website.  

UPCOMING REPORTING DUE DATES

March 20: March Monthly Reports are due. For more information on monthly reporting dates, refer to the 2012 Monthly Reporting page of the Commission website.

April 15: April Quarterly Reports are due. For information on quarterly reporting dates, refer to the 2012 Quarterly 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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