Category: The Federal Election Commission

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FEC Unveils Website, Debates Super PAC and State Party Restrictions

The Federal Election Commission endured a four hour session on Thursday, October 29. Among the topics discussed were a resolution for the Repledge advisory opinion request, a request from Senate Majority PAC and House Majority PAC seeking to clarify the legal limits of would-be candidates and Super PACs during the testing the waters period, and … Continue Reading

Commission Divides Sharply on Scope of Foreign National Ban

The Federal Election Commission met on Thursday, October 1. The agenda included two advisory opinion requests, discussion about whether to ban foreign national contributions to state and local ballot measures, and a notice of proposed rulemaking on reporting multistate independent expenditures and electioneering communications on presidential primary elections.… Continue Reading

At Stake in the FEC Debate Over Leadership PACs: More Criminal Enforcement?

In dueling draft advisory opinions to Representative Maxine Waters, the Federal Election Commission is divided over whether “leadership PACs” are subject to the personal use rules. Both drafts agree that FEC rules would not keep Representative Waters’ campaign, PAC or her personally from giving to a foreign candidate. But Draft A warns the Congresswoman that … Continue Reading

FEC’s McCain Decision Opens Still Another Path for Independent Expenditures

An overlooked enforcement decision by the Federal Election Commission involving Senator John McCain’s 2010 campaign may put another type of player onto a campaign field that has become increasingly dominated by super PACs, nonprofits and non-candidate groups—other candidates’ campaigns. The FEC announced last Friday that it found no reason to believe that McCain’s campaign broke … Continue Reading

FEC Publishes New Contribution Limits for the 2016 Election Cycle

Today the Federal Election Commission published in the Federal Register the contribution limits that will apply during the 2016 election cycle. The chart below summarizes the new limits, some of which were adjusted for inflation under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002: TO/FROM: Presidential Candidate Senate Candidate House Candidate National Party Committee State Party Committee … Continue Reading

Perkins Coie LLP Political Law Group Submits Comments to FEC on Post-McCutcheon Rulemaking

Today the Perkins Coie LLP Political Law Group submitted comments on an advance notice of proposed rulemaking, initiated by the Federal Election Commission in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC. The FEC asked whether it ought to change its earmarking, affiliation, joint fundraising and disclosure rules in response to McCutcheon, which struck … Continue Reading

The Van Hollen Case and the FEC’s Power

One way of looking at a case like Van Hollen v. FEC is to evaluate its result. Did the decision promote anti-corruption goals, or impede them? Reform proponents have celebrated the result in Van Hollen, which vacated a 2007 rule that allowed corporations and unions to narrow their disclosure when sponsoring” electioneering communications”— issue ads … Continue Reading

In Brief: The FEC’s New Citizens United Rules

Yesterday the Federal Election Commission adopted rules to implement the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The rules will not take effect before the November 4 election, although they largely codify practices that have been understood to be lawful since Citizens United came down nearly five years ago. Here—briefly—is what the FEC did: … Continue Reading

FEC Updates Rules in Response to Citizens United and McCutcheon, Approves Request on Presidential Nominating Conventions

At today’s public meeting, the FEC updated its rules in response to the Supreme Court decisions in Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC, and approved an advisory opinion allowing the Democratic and Republican national party committees to establish separate committees to raise convention funds under a separate contribution limit. While the decision in … Continue Reading

In Independence Institute, a Pro-Disclosure Decision—But With No Disclosure to Follow

It was hardly surprising that the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, in Independence Institute v. FEC, would reject a challenge to McCain-Feingold’s disclosure requirements for “electioneering communications.” These are television or radio ads, sponsored by unregistered groups, that refer to candidates before the voters during the thirty or sixty days before the … Continue Reading

Major Victory for Voters’ Rights in North Carolina

In a major victory for voting rights, the Fourth Circuit today issued an order forbidding the State of North Carolina from implementing certain provisions in a law impeding voters rights in that state. Perkins Coie LLP represented several North Carolina voters in the litigation. Marc Elias, a partner with Perkins Coie involved in the efforts … Continue Reading

Deception and Disclosure in the Iowa Endorsement-Buying Case

Few face greater peril under the campaign finance and criminal laws than an undisputed bad actor. Yesterday, former Iowa state senator Kent Sorenson admitted in a plea agreement that he willfully caused Representative Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign to falsely report payments made to two companies. In fact, Sorenson acknowledged, the campaign paid the companies—who … Continue Reading

FEC Approves Three Advisory Opinions, Permits Internet Company to Use Agency Data

At yesterday’s public meeting, the FEC voted unanimously to approve three advisory opinions, including one requested by the internet startup Crowdpac. The company, which was represented by a bipartisan team of Perkins Coie’s own Marc Elias and Tyler Hagenbuch, along with veteran election lawyer Benjamin Ginsberg of Jones Day, plans to use an algorithm to … Continue Reading

FEC Approves Advisory Opinion Allowing Rep. Ryan to Promote Upcoming Book

At its public meeting today, the FEC approved two advisory opinions, one of which allows Rep. Paul Ryan’s campaign committee and leadership PAC to promote the Congressman’s upcoming book. The FEC released three drafts prior to the meeting, all of which allowed the committees to promote the book to varying degrees. As Brian Svoboda explained … Continue Reading

FEC Issues Advisory Opinion, Considers Audit Division Recommendation

At its open meeting today, the FEC considered an audit division recommendation regarding the Democratic Party of Illinois and issued an advisory opinion in response to a request from Enterprise Holdings, Inc. The Commissioners’ debate over the audit division recommendation hinged on the records that state parties must keep. (Perkins Coie represented the party in … Continue Reading

FEC Holds Audit Hearing, Debates Advisory Opinion Request

The FEC today held a hearing on an audit staff finding that former Rep. Quico Canseco’s campaign accepted $100,000 in illegal contributions. The Commission also held an open meeting at which it considered an advisory opinion request from Enterprise Holdings, Inc. According to a staff audit report, Rep. Canseco’s 2010 campaign accepted $100,000 in illegal campaign contributions from a Mexican corporation called Caza. Rep. Canseco’s attorney, Chris Gober, argued at the audit hearing that the … Continue Reading

As FEC Convenes Public Forum on Party Issues, Perkins Coie LLP Political Law Group Urges FEC in Letter to Take “Fresh” Approach

Today the Federal Election Commission convened an “informal public forum” to discuss FEC operations affecting national, state and local party committees. The Perkins Coie LLP Political Law Group sent a letter to the Commission, exhorting the FEC to “choose, among reasonable readings of the rules, those that are most helpful to the parties” when it … Continue Reading

FEC Delays Issuing Opinion on Bitcoin Contributions

At yesterday’s public meeting, the Federal Election Commission discussed an advisory opinion request on Bitcoin contributions. The requestor, Make Your Laws PAC (MYL PAC), sought to accept bitcoins as contributions, as well as purchase, sell and trade them. The FEC’s Republican and Democratic members were divided over whether to classify bitcoin contributions as in-kind contributions, … Continue Reading

McCutcheon v. FEC, Part II: The Chief Justice on Earmarking

The Federal Election Commission’s anti-earmarking restrictions provided much of the rhetorical defense for Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC.  Like this blog did in October, the Chief Justice argued that donors could not evade the contribution limits as easily as Justice Breyer said in oral argument.  But the Chief Justice went very far … Continue Reading

FEC Deadlocks Again over Disclaimers on Mobile Phone Advertisements, with No Resolution in Sight

The irresistible force met the immovable object Thursday, as the Federal Election Commission deadlocked again on whether disclaimer requirements applied to advertisements displayed through new technologies.  The deadlock left no clear path toward a common understanding of the disclaimer requirements, with the Democratic-selected Commissioners contending that the law permits no exception for mobile phone ads, … Continue Reading

FEC Debates Enforcement of Employee Time Log Requirement for State and Local Parties

At Thursday’s open meeting, the FEC approved two Audit Division recommendations that had been held over from the previous meeting. The Audit Division found that both the Dallas County Republican Party and the Republican Party of Iowa misstated their financial activity and failed to keep monthly payroll logs for their employees. But the Commission adopted … Continue Reading

In its First Meeting of 2014, FEC Postpones Decision on Disclaimers for Mobile Advertisements

At the outset of the FEC’s first open meeting of 2014, Commission Chair Goodman outlined several of the agency’s priorities for the year, including: Replacing the agency’s outdated IT system, which has been vulnerable to hacking attempts, most notably during the October 2013 government shutdown. Improving the accessibility of the campaign finance data available on … Continue Reading

FEC Crossroads Deadlock, Ohio False Advertising Case Raise IRS, FCC Issues

Friday saw two big developments in the field of election law: the Federal Election Commission’s release of dueling statements of reasons over whether Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies might be a federal political committee, and the Supreme Court’s decision to take up a challenge to Ohio’s ban on false statements in political campaigns.  Each, obviously, involves the tension between regulation and … Continue Reading

New Law Brings Major Changes to the FEC’s Administrative Fine Program — and New Challenges for Independent Expenditures

On December 26, President Obama signed into law a bill to extend the Federal Election Commission’s administrative fine program.  The new law broadens the program significantly, in ways that will especially affect those who make independent expenditures. The administrative fine program allows the FEC to collect fines on a streamlined basis, and on fixed schedules, … Continue Reading
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