December 23, 2013

Last Week at the FEC: Elections and Legislative Recommendations

Holland & Knight Political Law Blog

Last week the Federal Election Commission elected Lee E. Goodman to serve as Chair of the Commission for 2014, and Anne M. Ravel to serve as Vice-Chair. In addition, the Commission took various administrative actions, issued its legislative recommendations for 2013, and announced its initial meeting schedule for 2014.

Legislative Recommendations

The Commission unanimously approved eight of nine proposed legislative recommendations to Congress for 2013. These approved recommendations included seven recommended by the Commission staff: (1) deleting the exclusion of the Commission from eligibility for the Senior Executive Service; (2) making permanent the Administrative Fine program for reporting violations; (3) authorizing the Commission to accept gifts that will assist the Commission in carrying out its functions; (4) requiring electronic filing for all Senate candidates and their authorized committees; (5) requiring electronic filing of reports of electioneering communications; (6) amending the prohibition of the personal use of campaign funds to extend to all political committees; and (7) increasing and indexing for inflation certain registration and reporting thresholds in the Federal Election Campaign Act.

In addition to these staff recommendations, the Commission considered two proposals advanced by outgoing Chair Ellen Weintraub, including: (1) expanding the prohibitions on fraudulent misrepresentation of campaign authority; and (2) increasing the frequency of political committee reporting in non-election years. The Commission adopted the former recommendation, which it had previously adopted in 2012, but chose not to recommend increasing the frequency of committee reporting for non-election years.

Notably, the Commission's recommendation to extend the prohibition on personal use of campaign funds to all political committees, including leadership PACs, is strikingly similar to House Resolution 3356, the Clean Campaign Contributions Act of 2013, current legislation introduced in October by Representative Andy Harris (R-MD). That legislation is intended to put a stop to personal use of leadership PAC funds by Members of Congress, including the reported use of leadership PAC monies to pay for golf outing, tickets to sporting events, and other extracurricular activities.

This Week at the FEC & January Meeting Schedule

The Commission is not scheduled to meet again until 10:00 a.m. on January 16, 2014. In addition, it is scheduled to meet on January 28 and January 30.  Agenda documents for those meetings have not yet been issued, but the Commission will likely consider Agency Procedure for Notice to Named Respondents in Enforcement Matters of Additional Material Facts and/or Additional Potential Violations and a Proposed Directive Regarding Information Sharing with Other Law Enforcement Agencies, both of which were initialed slated for consideration in December, but subsequently delayed.

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