May 22, 2019 •

FEC Names Tony Baptiste as Acting Inspector General

On May 28, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced the appointment of Tony Baptiste as Acting Inspector General of the agency. Mr. Baptiste, who has worked with the Office of the Inspector General for 19 years, will leave his position […]

On May 28, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced the appointment of Tony Baptiste as Acting Inspector General of the agency.

Mr. Baptiste, who has worked with the Office of the Inspector General for 19 years, will leave his position at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

“We look forward to working with him and drawing upon his deep expertise,” said Chair Ellen L. Weintraub in the FEC’s press release.

His appointment with the FEC becomes effective on May 28.

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March 22, 2019 •

Federal Court Rules Concerning Unauthorized Committee Naming

On March 21, a federal court ruled an unconnected committee is not restricted from using candidates’ names in the titles of their websites and social media pages. In Pursuing America’s Greatness v. FEC, the United States District Court for the […]

On March 21, a federal court ruled an unconnected committee is not restricted from using candidates’ names in the titles of their websites and social media pages.

In Pursuing America’s Greatness v. FEC, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia granted the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment and denied the motion for summary judgment from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

The court ruled 11 C.F.R. § 102.14(a) unconstitutional and permanently enjoined the FEC from enforcing the application of 11 C.F.R. § 102.14(a).

Federal law requires a candidate’s committee to include the name of the candidate in the committee’s title and requires an unauthorized political committee to not use a candidate’s name in its title. The purpose of the law is to avoid confusion.

Through the regulation, the FEC had extended the naming prohibition to other committee activities, solicitations, and communications, including special project names for websites or social media pages.

The court found the regulation violates the First Amendment and the FEC had not shown the regulation is the least restrictive means of achieving the government’s interest.

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February 7, 2019 •

Federal Lobbyist Bundling Disclosure Threshold Increased to $18,700

Today, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) published its price index adjustments for expenditure limitations and the federal lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold. The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold has increased for 2019 from $18,200 to $18,700. This threshold amount is adjusted annually. […]

Today, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) published its price index adjustments for expenditure limitations and the federal lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold.

The lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold has increased for 2019 from $18,200 to $18,700. This threshold amount is adjusted annually.

Federal law requires authorized committees of federal candidates, leadership political action committees (PACs), and political party committees to disclose contributions bundled by lobbyists and lobbyists’ PACs.

Additionally, the FEC published its adjusted Coordinated Party Expenditure Limits for political parties for 2019.

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February 7, 2019 •

Let the Fundraising Begin: FEC Publishes Contribution Limits for 2019-2020 Election Cycle

Today, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) published the 2019-2020 election cycle contribution limits, which have been indexed for inflation. As required by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the FEC must adjust certain contribution limits every two years. The […]

Today, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) published the 2019-2020 election cycle contribution limits, which have been indexed for inflation.

As required by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the FEC must adjust certain contribution limits every two years.

The individual and nonmulticandidate PAC contribution limit to federal candidates has increased from $2,700 to $2,800 for both primary and general elections, allowing for a total of $5,600 for a federal candidate.

The limits on contributions by individuals to national party committees has increased from $33,900 to $35,500 per calendar year.

Individuals may now contribute $106,500 per calendar year to committees of a national political party for presidential nominating conventions, to committees of a national political party for preparation for and the conduct of election recounts and contests and other legal proceedings, and to committees of a national political party for the construction, purchase, renovation, operation, and furnishing of one or more buildings for party headquarters.

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February 7, 2019 •

FEC Request for Comments on Comments Extended to March 4

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has extended its deadline for seeking public comments on proposals for rules establishing specific time periods for the submission of public comments on drafts of advisory opinions. The comment period was originally scheduled to end […]

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has extended its deadline for seeking public comments on proposals for rules establishing specific time periods for the submission of public comments on drafts of advisory opinions.

The comment period was originally scheduled to end on February 1. Because of the recent partial government shutdown, the FEC chose to extend the comment period for 30 days, ending on March 4.

In 2016, a Petition for Rulemaking was received by the FEC requesting the Commission modify 11 CFR §112.3 and codify procedures establishing specific time periods for public comments on drafts of advisory opinions before the Commission votes on the drafts.

The petition, filed by Make Your Laws PAC, Inc., Make Your Laws Advocacy, Inc., Make Your Laws, Inc., and Dan Backer, Esq., additionally asks the Commission to amend existing regulations to require that, when the Commission makes public multiple drafts of an advisory opinion, the Commission indicate the differences between those drafts.

The FEC also extended the comment deadline to March 4 for the rulemaking concerning the regulatory definition of contribution.

After the comment period is over, the FEC will consider the merits of the petition.

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December 12, 2018 •

FEC to Consider Whether Mining Cryptocurrencies Is Contribution

On December 13, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) may consider whether allowing an individual volunteering to allow the processing power of his or her internet-enabled device to mine cryptocurrencies for the benefit a political committee would be considered a political […]

On December 13, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) may consider whether allowing an individual volunteering to allow the processing power of his or her internet-enabled device to mine cryptocurrencies for the benefit a political committee would be considered a political contribution.

An advisory opinion request asks the FEC if a federal political committee could allow its individual supporters to volunteer the processing power of their internet-enabled devices to pool the processing power of these devices, which results in the mining of a “block.”

Mining allows transactions between users to be authenticated and generates a new cryptocurrency unit for the miner as a reward for creating the “block” and pays the miner a transaction fee. Creating blocks requires enormous amounts of computing power and can take years to generate a valid “block” by a single miner.

The FEC may consider Draft Advisory Opinion 2018-13 (Draft A) at its open meeting December 13, or hold it over for a future date.

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December 10, 2018 •

FEC Seeks Comments on Comments

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is seeking public comments on proposals for rules establishing specific time periods for the submission of public comments on drafts of advisory opinions. These comments must be submitted on or before February 1, 2019. In […]

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is seeking public comments on proposals for rules establishing specific time periods for the submission of public comments on drafts of advisory opinions. These comments must be submitted on or before February 1, 2019.

In 2016, a Petition for Rulemaking was received by the FEC requesting the Commission modify 11 CFR §112.3 and codify procedures establishing specific time periods for public comments on drafts of advisory opinions before the Commission votes on the drafts.

The petition, filed by Make Your Laws PAC, Inc., Make Your Laws Advocacy, Inc., Make Your Laws, Inc., and Dan Backer, Esq., additionally asks the Commission to amend existing regulations to require that, when the Commission makes public multiple drafts of an advisory opinion, the Commission indicate the differences between those drafts.

After the comment period is over, the FEC will consider the merits of the petition. The notice of availability for the submission of public comments was issued in the December 3 Federal Register.

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November 19, 2018 •

Report Issued on FEC’s Management and Performance Challenges

On November 15, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the OIG’s Statement on the FEC’s Management and Performance Challenges for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. An independent audit of the FEC was performed […]

On November 15, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released the OIG’s Statement on the FEC’s Management and Performance Challenges for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018.

An independent audit of the FEC was performed by Leon Snead & Company, P.C. under contract with, and monitored by, the OIG.

The report identifies “a significant deficiency in internal controls related to IT security and contains recommendations to address the deficiencies noted.” The audit “disclosed no instance of noncompliance that is required to be reported under Government Auditing Standards and the OMB audit bulletin.”

The auditing firm also believes corrective action is required “related to control issues dealing with reconciling trading partner transactions.”

Additionally, the audit also attributed low employee morale at the FEC to factors including the commissioners themselves and the commission’s communication.

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October 23, 2018 •

Leadership PACs’ Personal Use Petition Comment Period Ends November 16

The public has until November 16 to comment on a petition to expand federal regulations concerning the personal use of campaign funds taken from leadership PACs. A petition for rulemaking received by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in July seeks […]

The public has until November 16 to comment on a petition to expand federal regulations concerning the personal use of campaign funds taken from leadership PACs.

A petition for rulemaking received by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in July seeks to revise and amend 11 CFR §113.1(g), which regulates the personal use of campaign funds. The petitioners want the regulation to also apply to leadership PAC funds.

Public comments must be submitted in writing to the FEC on or before November 16, 2018, to be considered during the formulation of the proposed rule. Comments may be submitted electronically at http://sers.fec.gov/fosers/rulemaking.htm?pid=2933211.

The Commission does not consider a petition’s merits until after the comment period closes. If the FEC decides a petition has merit, it then begins a rulemaking proceeding.

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October 8, 2018 •

FEC Issues Reporting Guidance Following CREW v FEC

On October 4, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued new guidance on the reporting of political contributions made to nonprofit organizations making certain independent expenditures. The guidance, released in an FEC press release, was issued in reaction to a federal […]

On October 4, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued new guidance on the reporting of political contributions made to nonprofit organizations making certain independent expenditures.

The guidance, released in an FEC press release, was issued in reaction to a federal court’s decision in CREW v FEC, which ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation followed for decades by the FEC failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute.

Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia found the FEC regulation 11 CFR §109.10(e)(1)(vi), did not comport with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c).

The district court found the regulation impermissibly narrowed the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

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September 18, 2018 •

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Lower Court Ruling Concerning Campaign Finance Disclosure to Remain

On September 18, a ruling invalidating a federal campaign finance regulation limiting the disclosure requirements of organizations making independent expenditures was upheld by the United States Supreme Court. The Court overruled a stay issued on September 15 by Chief Justice John […]

On September 18, a ruling invalidating a federal campaign finance regulation limiting the disclosure requirements of organizations making independent expenditures was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.

The Court overruled a stay issued on September 15 by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., which had blocked a lower federal district court’s order invalidating a Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance disclosure regulation. There were no dissents issued with the order.

Robert’s stay was decided on Saturday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied an emergency motion for the stay made earlier the same day. On August 3, a federal district court had ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation followed for decades by the FEC failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia issued an order, in CREW v. FEC, vacating 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi), but stayed the vacatur for 45 days to give time for the FEC to issue interim regulations comporting with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c). The FEC has not yet replaced the rule.

The case originated because of independent expenditures made in a 2012 Ohio senate race by the non-political social-welfare nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an affiliate of the American Crossroads Super PAC. Crossroads GPS did not report donors when reporting its independent expenditures, while it acknowledged receiving contributions over $200, arguing the donors did not donate funds directly tied to any specific reported expenditure, as the FEC interpreted 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi) to require.

Non-political committees making independent expenditures over $250 in a calendar year must comply with disclosure obligations closely analogous to those imposed on political committees. The vacated regulation required the identification of each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 to the person filing a disclosure report, including for non-political 501(c)(4) non-profit entities making independent expenditures, if the contribution was made for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure.

The district court found the regulation, as construed and applied by the FEC, did not require the disclosure of donors, absent the donor’s express agreement that the funds be used for the specific expenditures reported to the FEC, even though the donor may otherwise support and in fact contribute for the purpose of funding those expenditures.

The district court found the regulation impermissibly narrows the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of such donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed that the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

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September 17, 2018 •

Chief Justice Roberts Stays FEC Campaign Finance Disclosure Regulation

On September 15th, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. issued an order staying a lower federal district court’s order invalidating a Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance disclosure regulation. Robert’s stay was decided on Saturday after […]

On September 15th, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. issued an order staying a lower federal district court’s order invalidating a Federal Election Commission (FEC) campaign finance disclosure regulation. Robert’s stay was decided on Saturday after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied an emergency motion for the stay made earlier the same day.

On August 3, a federal district court had ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation, followed for decades by the FEC, failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia issued an order, in CREW v. FEC, vacating 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi), but stayed the vacatur for 45 days to give time for the FEC to issue interim regulations comporting with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c). The court also has allowed the FEC 30 days to change an earlier FEC dismissal to conform with the court’s ruling.

The case originated because of independent expenditures made in a 2012 Ohio senate race by the non-political social-welfare nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an affiliate of the American Crossroads Super PAC. Crossroads GPS did not report donors when reporting its independent expenditures, while it acknowledged receiving contributions over $200, arguing the donors did not donate funds directly tied to any specific reported expenditure, as the FEC interpreted 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi) to require. Non-political committees making independent expenditures over $250 in a calendar year must comply with disclosure obligations closely analogous to those imposed on political committees.

The vacated regulation required the identification of each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 to the person filing a disclosure report, including for non-political 501(c)(4) non-profit entities making independent expenditures, if the contribution was made for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. The district court found the regulation, as construed and applied by the FEC, did not require the disclosure of donors, absent the donor’s express agreement that the funds be used for the specific expenditures reported to the FEC, even though the donor may otherwise support and in fact contribute for the purpose of funding those expenditures.

The district court found the regulation impermissibly narrows the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of such donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed that the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

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August 7, 2018 •

FEC Disclosure Regulation Invalidated by Court for Being Too Narrow

On August 3, a federal court ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation, followed for decades by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District […]

On August 3, a federal court ruled a campaign finance disclosure regulation, followed for decades by the Federal Election Commission (FEC), failed to uphold disclosure requirements required by a federal statute. Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell of the United States District Court for The District of Columbia issued an order, in CREW v. FEC, vacating 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi), but stayed the vacatur for 45 days to give time for the FEC to issue interim regulations comporting with the statutory disclosure requirements of 52 U.S.C. §30104(c). The court also has allowed the FEC 30 days to change an earlier FEC dismissal to conform with the court’s ruling.

The case originated because of independent expenditures made in a 2012 Ohio senate race by the non-political social-welfare nonprofit Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies (Crossroads GPS), an affiliate of the American Crossroads Super PAC. Crossroads GPS did not report donors when reporting its independent expenditures, while it acknowledged receiving contributions over $200, arguing the donors did not donate funds directly tied to any specific reported expenditure, as the FEC interpreted 11 C.F.R. §109.10(e)(1)(vi) to require. Non-political committees making independent expenditures over $250 in a calendar year must comply with disclosure obligations closely analogous to those imposed on political committees.

The vacated regulation required the identification of each person who made a contribution in excess of $200 to the person filing a disclosure report, including for non-political 501(c)(4) non-profits entities making independent expenditures, if the contribution was made for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. The court found the regulation, as construed and applied by the FEC, did not require the disclosure of donors, absent the donor’s express agreement that the funds be used for the specific expenditures reported to the FEC, even though the donor may otherwise support and in fact contribute for the purpose of funding those expenditures. The court found the regulation impermissibly narrows the mandated disclosure in 52 U.S.C. §30104(c)(2)(C), which requires the identification of such donors contributing for the purpose of furthering the non-political committee’s own express advocacy for or against the election of a federal candidate, even when the donor has not expressly directed that the funds be used in the precise manner reported.

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May 23, 2018 •

Third Request for FEC to Consider Rulemaking Concerning Foreign Interference in Elections

At the May 24 meeting of the Federal Election Commission, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub resubmitted proposals for the commission to reconsider concerning whether to engage in a rulemaking to protect future U.S. elections from foreign interference. As stated in […]

At the May 24 meeting of the Federal Election Commission, Vice Chair Ellen L. Weintraub resubmitted proposals for the commission to reconsider concerning whether to engage in a rulemaking to protect future U.S. elections from foreign interference.

As stated in her May 17 memorandum to the commission, the proposals were initially brought in both September 2016 and June 2017. The impetus for her new request was a bipartisan joint statement released by Senators Richard Burr and Mark Warner, in which they both call for better efforts to combat foreign interference in federal elections.

This request to be considered at the commission’s meeting can be found here.

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