The Federal Election Commission is amending its rules defining ``electioneering communication'' under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (``FECA'' or the ``Act''). The changes modify the definition of ``publicly distributed'' and the exemptions to the definition of ``electioneering communication'' consistent with the ruling of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in Shays v. FEC, portions of which were affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Specifically, the changes eliminate the exemption from the electioneering communication provisions for certain tax-exempt organizations and revise the definition of ``publicly distributed,'' a term used in the regulatory definition of ``electioneering communication.'' The Commission is not adopting any other regulatory exemptions considered in this rulemaking. The Commission is also deferring further consideration of a proposed exemption for advertisements promoting films, books and plays until after completing the rulemakings that respond to Shays v. FEC. Further information is provided in the supplementary information that follows.
Extension of Administrative Fines Program
Section 721 of the Transportation, Treasury, Housing and Urban Development, Judiciary, District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2006 (``2006 Appropriations Act'') amended the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act, 2000, to extend the expiration date for the Administrative Fines Program (``AFP''). Under the AFP, the Federal Election Commission (``Commission'') may assess civil monetary penalties for violations of the reporting requirements of section 434(a) of the Federal Election Campaign Act (``Act'' or ``FECA''). Accordingly, the Commission is extending the applicability of its rules and penalty schedules in implementing the AFP. Further information is provided in the Supplementary Information that follows.
State, District, and Local Party Committee Payment of Certain Salaries and Wages
The Federal Election Commission is amending its rules to revise the method by which State, district and local party committees (collectively ``State party committees'') may pay salaries and wages of employees who spend 25 percent or less of their compensated time in a month on Federal election activity or activity in connection with Federal elections (``Federal-related activity'' or ``Federal-related activities''). These final rules implement the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Shays v. FEC, which held that the Commission had not provided an adequate explanation for its former rules under the Administrative Procedure Act. The Commission is also changing its requirements regarding the method State party committees use to pay for employees' fringe benefits and clarifying its rules regarding the use of funds raised in joint Federal and non-Federal fundraising events. Further information is provided in the Supplementary Information that follows.
The Federal Election Commission requests comment on proposed revisions to its regulations regarding communications that have been coordinated with Federal candidates and political party committees. The Commission's current rules set out a three-prong test for determining whether a communication is ``coordinated'' with, and therefore an in- kind contribution to, a Federal candidate or a political party committee. In Shays v. FEC, the Court of Appeals invalidated one aspect of the so-called content prong of the coordinated communications test, because the court believed that the Commission had not provided adequate explanation and justification for the current rules under the Administrative Procedure Act. To comply with the decision of the Court of Appeals, and to address other issues involving the coordinated communication rules, the Commission is issuing this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. No final decision has been made by the Commission on the issues presented in this rulemaking. Further information is provided in the supplementary information that follows.