Candidate Solicitation at State, District, and Local Party Fundraising Events
The Federal Election Commission seeks comments on proposed changes to its rule regarding appearances by Federal officeholders and candidates at State, district, and local party fundraising events under the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (``FECA'' or the ``Act''). The current regulation contains an exemption permitting Federal officeholders and candidates to speak at State, district, and local party fundraising events ``without restriction or regulation.'' This regulation was challenged in Shays v. FEC. The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia held that this regulation implementing the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was based on a permissible construction of the statute. However, the district court also held that the Commission had not provided adequate explanation of its decision to permit Federal candidates and officeholders to speak ``without restriction or regulation,'' and therefore had not satisfied the reasoned analysis requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act. The district court remanded the regulation to the Commission for further action consistent with the court's opinion. Accordingly, in order to comply with the court's decision, the Commission now revisits the exemption for candidate and Federal officeholder speech at State, district, and local party fundraising events. The Commission has made no final decision on the issues presented in this rulemaking. Further information is provided in the supplementary information that follows.
Price Index Increases for Expenditure and Contribution Limitations
As mandated by provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (``BCRA''), the Federal Election Commission (``FEC'' or ``the Commission'') is adjusting certain expenditure and contribution limitations set forth in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended (``FECA'' or ``the Act''), to account for increases in the consumer price index. Additional details appear in the supplemental information that follows.
Contributions and Donations by Minors
The Federal Election Commission is amending its rules regarding contributions and donations by individuals aged 17 years or younger (``Minors''). These final rules conform to the decision of the United States Supreme Court in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission. In McConnell, the Supreme Court held unconstitutional section 318 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which prohibited Minors from contributing to candidates and from contributing or donating to political party committees. Accordingly, this final rule amends the Commission's regulations to reflect the Supreme Court's decision by removing the regulatory prohibitions on contributions by Minors to candidates, and on contributions and donations by Minors to political party committees. Additional information appears in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section.
Definition of “Agent” for BCRA Regulations on Non-Federal Funds or Soft Money and Coordinated and Independent Expenditures
The Federal Election Commission requests comments on the proposed revision of the definition of ``agent'' for its regulations on coordinated and independent expenditures, and non-Federal funds, which are commonly referred to as ``soft money.'' Current Commission regulations define agent as ``any person who has actual authority, either express or implied'' to perform certain actions. This definition does not include persons acting only with apparent authority. The Commission's regulations defining agent were challenged in Shays v. FEC. The District Court held that the Commission's definitions of agent did not necessarily run contrary to Congress's intent and were based on a permissible construction of the statute. However, the court also held that the Commission had not provided adequate explanation of its decision to exclude from the definition of agent persons acting only with apparent authority and therefore had not satisfied the reasoned analysis requirement of the Administrative Procedures Act. The court remanded the regulations to the Commission for further action consistent with the court's opinion. Accordingly, in order to comply with the court's decision, the Commission now revisits the definition of agent by 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.
De Minimis Exemption for Disbursement of Levin Funds by State, District, and Local Party Committees
The Federal Election Commission requests comments on proposed revisions to the Commission's regulations that establish a de minimis exemption allowing State, district, and local committees of a political party to pay for certain Federal election activity aggregating $5,000 or less in a calendar year entirely with Levin funds. In Shays v. FEC, the District Court held that the Commission's de minimis exemption was inconsistent with the statutory intent of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and remanded the regulation to the Commission for further action consistent with the court's opinion. The Commission is appealing this ruling to the D.C. Circuit. In the interim, the Commission is initiating this 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.
Filing Dates for the California Special Election in the 5th Congressional District
California has scheduled a special general election on March 8, 2005, to fill the U.S. House of Representatives seat in the Fifth Congressional District held by the late Representative Robert Matsui. Under California law, a majority winner in a special election is declared elected. Should no candidate achieve a majority vote, a special runoff election will be held on May 3, 2005, among the top vote-getters of each qualified political party, including qualified independent candidates. Committees participating in the California special elections are required to file pre- and post-election reports. Filing dates for these reports are affected by whether one or two elections are held.
Statement of Policy Regarding Treasurers Subject to Enforcement Proceedings
The Commission is issuing a Policy Statement to clarify when, in the course of an enforcement proceeding (known as a Matter Under Review or ``MUR''), a treasurer is subject to Commission action in his or her official or personal capacity, or both. Under this policy, when the Commission investigates alleged violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act, as amended, the Presidential Election Campaign Fund Act, and the Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account Act (collectively ``the Act'' or ``FECA'') involving a political committee, the treasurer will typically be subject to Commission action only in his or her official capacity. However, when information indicates that a treasurer has knowingly and willfully violated a provision of the Act or regulations, or has recklessly failed to fulfill duties specifically imposed on treasurers by the Act, or has intentionally deprived himself or herself of the operative facts giving rise to the violation, the Commission will consider the treasurer to have acted in a personal capacity and make findings (and pursue conciliation) accordingly. This Policy Statement also addresses situations in which treasurers are subject to Commission action in both their official and personal capacities, and situations where successor treasurers are named. The goal in adopting this policy is to clarify when a treasurer is subject to Commission action in a personal or official capacity, while at the same time preserving the Commission's ability to obtain an appropriate remedy that will satisfactorily resolve enforcement matters, or to seek relief in court, if necessary, against a live person. Importantly, the policy is grounded in the statutory obligations specifically imposed on treasurers and well-established legal distinctions between official and personal capacity proceedings.