In its first open meeting in nearly a month and its first since General Counsel Anthony Herman announced he will be leaving the agency for private practice, the Federal Election Commission made two unanimous decisions and postponed two others for the next public meeting, scheduled to be held two weeks from today.
One of the two postponed items is the “draft interpretive rule on reporting ultimate payees of political committee disbursements.” The draft rule, which the Commission made public early this year, would require campaign committees to include an explanatory “memo item” along with reported reimbursements of over $200 to candidates or staff. The requirement would also apply to payments to credit card bills that include charges of more than $200 to a single vendor. In the case of travel or subsistence expenses, only reimbursements of over $500 would require the memo item. Even in cases where the candidate’s expenditure was not ultimately reimbursed, the memo would be required. The Perkins Coie Political Law Group submitted comments on the draft rule in March.
The Commission also postponed consideration of its proposed Enforcement Manual. Two draft versions of the manual were posted just after 10 pm last night. Commission enforcement procedures have been confidential in the past; however, due in part to increasing pressure from some members of Congress and election lawyers, the Commission has recently released more information on its procedures. The Commission posted a request for comment on its enforcement process in January, and the Perkins Coie Political Law Group responded with these comments.
After postponing two of the agenda items, the commissioners unanimously approved the two remaining items. The first was a draft advisory opinion (AO-2013-03) requested by the Perkins Coie Political Law Group on behalf of Erin Bilbray-Kohn, who is considering running for Congress in Nevada. The second was a Proposed Final Audit Report on the California Republican Party. The draft report saw two deadlocked votes in April, both on party lines. In the first, the Democratic commissioners accepted staff findings that the CRP received an improper extension on unpaid bills for telemarketing services from a commercial vendor, while the Republican commissioners disagreed. A vote on a finding of improper debt reporting also deadlocked, but a finding on the party’s misreporting of federal and nonfederal financial activity was approved unanimously.
The next public meeting of the Commission will be held on June 27th.