“Fraudsters Use Political Action Committees to Rip Off Older Americans”

…Action Committees 1. Visit the Federal Election Commission’s website, fec.gov, to check out a PAC and how it spends its money. The Center for Responsive Politics also has information about PACs, at opensecrets.org. 2. Beware of a PAC if its website doesn’t have the names of the people running it and contact information. 3. Be suspicious if a PAC collects money through harder-to-trace payment sites like PayPal or requests checks…

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Is Mike Bloomberg Breaking the Law by Continuing to Control Bloomberg News While a Presidential Candidate?[UPDATE: Probably Not]

…red their respective parties’ nominations.  “I don’t believe that the FEC or a court have ever ruled on this type of situation, so I suppose it’s an open question,” Smith said. “Certainly, it reveals the flaws of having a regime in which some very large, influential corporations (those designated ‘press’) have a freedom that other Americans do not.” Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center told the Daily Caller: “Bloomberg News declining…

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“Putin’s Revenge: The Foreign Threat to American Campaign Finance Law”

…ports should be made immediately available to the public and posted on the FEC website. In addition, Congress should empower the FEC to alert the public to foreign efforts to influence American elections. Although we cannot prevent foreign governments from seeking to influence our election campaigns, we can ensure that the public is made aware of those efforts. In the internet age, a fully informed public is the best defense against foreign meddli…

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Campaign Legal Center Unsuccessfully Fights Effort to Allow Clinton Campaign and Allied Super PAC to Defend Itself in Federal Court (Comment from Marc Elias)

…Court order. Comment from Marc Elias via email: “The idea that a so called good government group would use the fact that the FEC is shorthanded to try to score a victory in court and not let the case be defended is outrageous. Whatever you may think of the underlying merits, the idea of having both sides represented in an adversarial process is foundational to the rule of law.”…

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“Our Campaign Finance Nationalism”

…decided, this prohibition on foreign nationals was challenged in Bluman v. FEC, but the Bluman court upheld the ban on the grounds that foreigners are not members of the American political community. As Part III explains, our campaign finance nationalism has several consequences. One is that it prevents individual states from restricting nonresident campaign contributions. Over the years, several states have tried to place limits on nonresident co…

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“Halloween’s Over. The FEC? Still a Zombie”

…ident Donald Trump have failed to strike an agreement to fill any of three vacancies on the six-member commission that needs a quorum of at least four warm bodies to conduct most any high-level business. The agency therefore can’t pass new rules, pursue investigations, issue fines, even hold formal public meetings. What does this mean for political candidates, the body politic and U.S. elections in general? A lot, it turns out — little of it good….

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“Indicted Donors Spread Campaign Cash Widely; Pair of Soviet-born Florida businessmen donated $675,000 to at least 14 GOP candidates and groups last year”

…nd advance their own interests, and in some instances the interests of foreign officials,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, which filed a complaint with the FEC in July 2018 about the fundraising activities of Messrs. Parnas and Fruman. “Every single one of these contributions is suspect because they were made with an ulterior motive.”…

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“Two Giuliani Associates Who Helped Him on Ukraine Charged With Campaign-Finance Violations”

…C called Global Energy Producers, according to Federal Election Commission records.The men were charged with four counts, including conspiracy, falsification of records and lying to the FEC about their political donations, according to the indictment that outlines a conspiracy to funnel a Russian donor’s money into U.S. elections….

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Aprill: “A Tax Lesson for Election Law”

…derscores important differences between section 501(c)(3) and (c)(4) organizations not only under section 501(c), but also under section 527. Moreover, because the resignation of the FEC vice chair has left the commission without quorum and thus unable to act,1 tax regulation of campaign finance has increased importance….

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“Watchdog Allowed to Sue on Donor Disclosure After FEC Won’t Act”

Bloomberg: A federal judge eased the way for watchdog groups to bypass a gridlocked Federal Election Commission in a decision allowing a lawsuit seeking to unmask secret donors to a major Republican campaign spending organization. Federal District Judge Christopher Cooper said the watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) can pursue an unusual “citizen suit” against the nonprofit American Action Network (AAN). The self…

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FEC Commissioner Hunter Responds to FEC Chair Weintraub’s Attempt to Put Foreign Interference Draft in FEC Digest, Confirms FEC Foreign Contribution Ban (Without Opinion on Whether Opposition Research is a Thing of Value)

Statement: Late last week, my colleague, Ellen Weintraub, unilaterally and without advance notice, made public a draft interpretative rule regarding the Act’s foreign national ban and placed it on the agenda for the open meeting of October 17, 2019. Approval of such a document, however, requires a quorum of four Commissioners, which we currently lack. Under these circumstances, a discussion in an open meeting without a quorum would be a useless…

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“Koch-Linked Nonprofit Must Disclose Donors, Settlement Mandates”

…or Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), disclosed the settlement Sept. 19, following a years-long legal battle to have a federal district court in Washington, D.C., force the FEC to take enforcement action. The case is one of several filed by CREW pressing the commission to act against what it calls “dark money groups.”…

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“SYMPOSIUM: Digital Disinformation and the Threat to Democracy: Information Integrity in the 2020 Elections”

…tion-2020-elections/  The event will be live-streamed at: https://www.fec.gov/disinformation   AGENDA 8:00     Doors open 8:30 – 9:00      Coffee & registration 9:00 – 9:15      Introduction: Framing the challenge 9:15 – 9:45      Keynote: Senator Mark Warner of Virginia 9:45 – 11:00    Session 1: Understanding the challenge: How disinforma…

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“Congressional Standoff May Delay Federal Election Oversight”

…Democrats, meanwhile, say the Senate should move quickly to fill existing vacancies, restoring a quorum and allowing the commission to function fully. Democrats aren’t calling for immediate replacement of the current commissioners. The standoff could delay for weeks or months restoring the FEC’s ability to enforce campaign-finance laws as the 2020 election approaches. Federal campaign spending is projected to approach $8 billion to $10 billion. T…

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FEC Commissioner Petersen Intentionally Left Internet Disclosure Regulations Hanging, Knowing He Was Leaving

[Bumped to the top with corrected link] Mother Jones: At the most recent FEC meeting last week, commissioners punted—for the fourth meeting in a row—on the question of how to attach the same kind of disclosures that appear in television political ads to digital political ads. The commission’s lone remaining Democrat, Ellen Weintraub pressed the other three members to address the issue and complained that she hadn’t been able to get any response…

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FEC Deadlocks Over Advisory Opinion on Tom Price Attempt to Transfer Congressional Funds to Political 501(c)(4)

…affirmative votes and concluded its consideration of the request.ResourcesAOR 2019-10 Commission consideration of AOR 2019-10 Price can now go ahead and try to do this anyway, but he cannot claim he relied upon a green light from the FEC. (Many more aggressive political folks use FEC deadlock as a green light.) If Price goes ahead, there could be an FEC complaint and lawsuits. But those will take a long time to resolve and Price might treat it as…

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Four Separate Draft Advisory Opinions Signals Potential Deadlock at FEC on Tom Price Plan to Use Campaign Funds for 501c(4) Electioneering

…See here. If the FEC deadlocks, Price will have to decide whether to go forward with his plan and risk liability for doing so. But given how lax FEC enforcement is these days, it is not clear how much of a risk this is….

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“Deregulating Corruption”

…courts that their convictions should be overturned in light of the Supreme Court’s lax definition of corruption. In some cases, jury convictions have been set aside for politicians who cite the Supreme Court’s latest campaign finance and white-collar crime cases, especially Citizens United v. FEC and McDonnell v. United States. This Article explores what the Supreme Court has done to rebrand corruption, as well as how this impacts the criminal pr…

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“Republican FEC commissioners let Clinton campaign off the hook for super PAC coordination”

…ton campaign as it posted its communications online — attempting to use an FEC exception that allows for individuals and blogs to post political content on the Internet. FEC attorneys sided with Campaign Legal Center. Noting that the super PAC didn’t limit its efforts to posting content online, they recommended the commission hold both the Clinton campaign and Correct the Record in violation of campaign finance law over unreported, excessive in-ki…

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Former HHS Secretary and Member of Congress Tom Price Poised to Convert $1.7 Million in Campaign Funds to a 501(c)(4) That Can Play in Georgia (or Federal) Elections (Now Updated with an Important Caveat)

This recommendation of the FEC staff would allow Price to do that. A 501(c)(4) can now do lots of election and political activity without getting in trouble with the IRS. UPDATE: It may be that the limits this 501(c)(4) is putting on itself, at least until it spends down Price’s campaign funds, may curtail some of the political activity it would engage in. But the benefit of this structure would be to shield future donors from public discl…

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Last week at the FEC

…Here’s last week’s roundup of the latest at the FEC.  Includes, among other things, an advisory opinion allowing a vendor to offer cybersecurity services to campaigns at low- to no-cost, and an advisory opinion allowing a congressional campaign to distribute “valueless digital blockchain tokens as an incentive to engage in volunteer activities.”…

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“Kobach appears to launch Kansas Senate bid by misspelling own name on federal form”

…eech in Leavenworth, where he is expected to kickoff his campaign. But the FEC filing initially spelled the former Kansas secretary of state’s name as “Chris,” an inauspicious start to his campaign to replace retiring Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Danedri Herbert, who served as Kobach’s spokeswoman during his campaign for governor, said she could not confirm whether the event in Leavenworth at 1 p.m. would be a campaign launch as has been speculate…

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Amicus Brief Cites Evidence that Super PACs Create the Appearance of Quid Pro Quo Corruption in DC Circuit Case Seeking to Overturn SpeechNow (The Case That Gave Us Super PACs)

From the Robertson, Bergstrand, and Winkelman brief in Lieu v. FEC: Plaintiffs-Appellants have asked the Court to reconsider its decision in SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, 599 F.3d 686 (D.C. Cir. 2010), which gave rise to so-called Super PACs and similar independent expenditure organizations. The Court in SpeechNow recognized that the “appearance of corruption” could justify campaign finance regulation under Supreme Court preceden…

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“Foreign spending in our elections is a threat to our national sovereignty”

FEC Chair Ellen Weintraub with this WaPo oped: Concerns about foreign attempts to intervene in our political system date back to the founding of our republic. As chair of the Federal Election Commission, I am gravely concerned about ongoing efforts by geopolitical adversaries to undermine our democracy. It is critically important that everyone involved in U.S. politics understands the law, recognizes the threat, and confronts and contains it. Wh…

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“Trump said it’s OK to take campaign dirt from foreign powers. Is it legal?”

…aid.Brad Smith, a law professor at Capital University in Ohio and a former FEC chairman, agreed, saying that conversations with foreign nationals are not unlawful. But if those talks involve a foreign government agent going out and spending money to compile information on a candidate’s behalf, it could be, he said…. Nonetheless, Smith found Trump’s remarks troubling.“I think it’s legitimate for Americans to be concerned that the president is…

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“‘Let me make something 100% clear’: FEC chair lays down the law on foreign help”

…ic office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,“ wrote Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the FEC. “This is not a novel concept.“She also sent the statement via Twitter with the introductory line: “I would not have thought that I needed to say this.“…

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