Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
April 20, 2014

Posts in "Compliance Activity"

April 18, 2014

Donor Pleads Guilty to Giving $180,000 in Contributions Through Others

A New York hotel magnate pleaded guilty Thursday to making $180,000 in contributions through straw donors to three federal campaigns.

Sant Singh Chatwal pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Federal Election Campaign Act by giving in the names of others, and for witness tampering. He agreed to forfeit $1 million.

From 2007 to 2011, Chatwal, founder of Hampshire Hotels Management LLC, and founder of the Bombay Palace restaurant, operated several businesses, including restaurants, hotels and a hotel management company. He used his employees, business associates, and contractors who performed work for Chatwall Associates, to solicit contributions on Chatwal’s behalf in support of various candidates and PACs, collect these contributions, and pay reimbursements on these contributions.

Full story

April 15, 2014

Study Finds Voluntary Corporate Political Spending Disclosure Lacking

Corporations that stated they would voluntarily disclose their political contributions have been criticized by an organization that went through I.R.S. reports of the recipients to see if the corporations disclosed all.

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a non-profit 501c3 organization, compared the political spending disclosed by 60 companies to what Section 527 political organizations reported receiving from those companies.

The key findings from their new report, “The Myth of Corporate Disclosure Exposed,” stated (1) that 25 of 60 companies had significant discrepancies between what was disclosed and what was reported, (2) 20 companies failed to disclose any of their contributions to Section 527 political organizations, and (3) the discrepancies of 25 companies totaled more than $3.1 million between 2011 and 2013.

Full story

April 14, 2014

Gillibrand’s Campaign and Others Pay Civil Penalties to FEC

The Federal Election Commission has announced civil penalties for campaign finance violations by the committees of a current U.S. Senator, a former presidential candidate, and a New York corporation.

The campaign committee of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and its treasurer, have agreed to pay a $8,000 civil penalty for failing to disclose accurately $12,124 in receipts and $229,479 in disbursements in ten disclosure reports filed during the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. MUR 6757.

The presidential campaign committee of Full story

April 11, 2014

FEC Seminar for Trade Assns., Membership, and Labor Organizations

The Federal Election Commission has announced a May seminar in Washington, D.C. for Trade Associations, Membership and Labor Organizations and their PACs.

The Commission will hold its seminar at its headquarters in Washington, D.C. on May 21. The session will also be available as a webinar. The staff will conduct a variety of technical workshops on the federal campaign finance  laws affecting these organizations and their PACs. Workshops are designed for those seeking an introduction to the basic provisions of the law as well as for those more experienced in campaign finance law.

Click here for more information on the agenda or to register for the seminar.

Guilty Plea for Foreign Money in U.S. Campaigns

A California luxury car dealer pleaded guilty Thursday to a scheme that moved hundreds of thousands of dollars from a foreign national into U.S. campaigns.

Marc Alan Chase pleaded guilty Thursday to eight counts of violating federal campaign finance laws, including making a contribution in the name of another, conspiracy, and aiding and abetting contributions by a foreign national.

Full story

Rowland Could Get Second Term – In Prison

Former Rep. John G. Rowland, R-Conn., was indicted Thursday for federal campaign finance violations involving the 2012 congressional campaign of Republican Lisa Wilson-Foley, and another federal candidate in 2010. If convicted, Rowland faces a possible second prison term.

Rowland served in Congress from 1985 to 1991. He served as Governor of Connecticut from 1995 to 2004. He resigned in 2004 under pressure about allegations of receiving $107,000 in gifts and services from state contractors. Rowland was convicted and served ten months in prison.

Former Rep. John G. Rowland, R-Conn., was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Connecticut. The actual indictment charges Rowland with seven counts, including of two counts of falsifying records in a federal investigation; one count of conspiracy; two counts of causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission; and two counts of illegal campaign contributions.

Full story

April 10, 2014

Office of Congressional Ethics Looking at Rep. Bobby Rush

A Congressman’s handling of a $1 million grant and his campaign fund expenditures are being probed by the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., acknowledged the inquiry and stated, “I’ve been cooperative,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The Congressman’s campaign committee, Citizens for Rush, is paying the Dickstein Shapiro law firm for legal services. His attorney is Scott Thomas, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission.

Chuck Neubauer and Sandy Bergo reported in several Chicago Sun-Times/Better Government Association investigative articles that there was little to show from a $1 million grant Rush’s non-profit received from SBC (now AT&T). The articles also highlighted the mixing of campaign funds and those of his church where he is the minister. Carolyn Rush also was listed as a $3,000-a-month consultant to the campaign.

April 8, 2014

FEC Publishes New Contribution Limits for 2013-2014

In response to last week’s Supreme Court case, the Federal Election Commission has published a chart of new contribution limits for the 2013-2014 election cycle.

The opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court case, McCutcheon v. FEC, tossed out the aggregate contribution limits on political contributions. The new FEC Reference chart shows there is no limit on the aggregate amount an individual may give to federal candidates. An individual had been limited to giving a two-year aggregate amount of $48,600.

The new chart also shows no limit on the amount an individual may give to political party committees. An individual had been limited to giving a two-year aggregate amount of $74,600 to other committees, of which no more than $48,600 of this amount may be given to committees that are not national party committees.

View the updated FEC brochure on Contributions.

April 7, 2014

Rep. Robert Pittenger Pays $31,000 Fine (Corrected)

pittenger 166 022614 445x295 Rep. Robert Pittenger Pays $31,000 Fine (Corrected)

A freshman Congressman has paid a $31,000 fine for a campaign finance disclosure violation in his first federal election. But the fine was a relatively small amount for the 13th richest member of Congress.

The campaign committee of Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., failed to file a 48-hour contribution notice prior to his May 8th primary election in 2012. The pre-election notice would have disclosed Pittenger’s own $309,000 contribution to his campaign on April 26, 2012. Pittenger failed to win the primary outright, but ranked first with 32% of the vote in the eleven-candidate field. In the July 12th primary run-off, Pittenger beat former Mecklenburg County sheriff James Pendergraph.

The Federal Election Commission required the Pittenger for Congress LLC to pay a $31,010 civil penalty, which included $110 for one notice not filed, plus 10% of the overall contributions not filed. The fine was paid on February 21, 2013.

Full story

April 3, 2014

Congressman Listed With Homestead Deduction in D.C.

graves 207 062813 445x295 Congressman Listed With Homestead Deduction in D.C.

A U.S. Congressman  from Missouri is listed as claiming a $70,200 Homestead Credit on his property assessment for a row house he purchased on Capitol Hill.

Rep. Samuel B. Graves, Jr., R-Mo., purchased what the D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue labels a single-family residential row house on Capitol Hill in September 2013. The sale price was listed as $925,000.  The total value of the property for tax year 2015 is shown as $831,570. The taxable assessment, taking into account the D.C. Homestead credit, is shown as $724,504 for tax year 2015.

The D.C. Office of Tax and Revenue form states, “If you are not domiciled in the District or the property is not your principal place of residence, you are obligated to inform the Office of Tax and Revenue.” Members of Congress are usually not considered to be domiciled in the District.

Full story

Supreme Court Decision Puts Members of Congress at Risk

Opinion:

While some national political party leaders are jumping for joy over the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling eliminating the limit on the aggregate amount of political contributions a person can give, it may immediately increase the chances of members of Congress being dragged into corruption investigations.

Anytime you have legislators coming close to large political contributions of $100,000 or more from individuals or organizations concerned with, or benefiting from, legislative activity or regulatory actions, there is an immediate question or concern about the motives involved, sometimes leading to the appearance of corruption.

After the scandals of the unlimited soft money era, Congress wisely prohibited members of Congress from soliciting unlimited soft money contributions. Without immediate action, new joint fundraising committees will be quickly formed and members of Congress will again become the solicitors of contributions ranging into the millions of dollars. As currently done with PAC contributions, the Congressional leadership teams and leaders of standing committees of Congress may be given quotas of funds to be raised, and their regulated industry leaders hit up for large contributions.

To avoid the potential scandals and accusations of appearances of corruption, Full story

April 2, 2014

Supreme Court Strikes Down Aggregate Contribution Limit

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued its opinion in McCutcheon v. FEC striking down the current aggregate contribution limit on political contributions.

The individual aggregate two-year contribution limit had been $48,600 for giving to federal candidates, and $74,600 for giving to political party committees. See FEC brochure, The Biennial Contribution Limit.

The opinion did not change the individual contribution limit of giving $2,600 to a federal candidate, per election.

March 26, 2014

Searchlight Lands on Sen. Harry Reid

reid 100 031312 445x305 Searchlight Lands on Sen. Harry Reid

A federal agency is trying to shine some light on over $16,000 a Senator’s campaign committee paid to the Senator’s granddaughter.

The Federal Election Commission has sent a Request For Additional Information (RFAI) to the campaign committee of Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate Majority Leader, seeking a more detailed description of the disbursements reported as “holiday gifts.” The committee, Friends for Harry Reid, reported they were purchased from “Ryan Elisabeth,” a jewelry vendor in Berkeley, California. Jon Ralston, of Ralston Reports, discovered her full name is Ryan Elisabeth Reid, Sen. Reid’s granddaughter.

Full story

March 13, 2014

Former Rep. Edolphus Towns Driven To Personal Use of Campaign Funds

A former U.S. Representative has agreed to pay a civil penalty for personal use of campaign funds.

Former Rep. Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., has reached a conciliation agreement with the Federal Election Commission for converting campaign funds to personal use. Towns agreed to pay a $5,000 civil penalty for using campaign funds to pay for a car lease on a vehicle used exclusively or primarily by his wife, Gwen Towns, for noncampaign-related personal activities. The Infiniti car was leased for at least 12 months at a cost of $600 per month.

Full story

March 12, 2014

FEC Offers Seminar for Corporations and their PACs

The Federal Election Commission is offering a Washington, D.C. seminar in April for treasurers and staff of corporations and their PACs whose responsibilities include compliance with federal campaign finance laws.

The seminar is also aimed at attorneys, accountants and consultants who have clients that are corporations or corporate PACs. The seminar may also be helpful to anyone who wants to gain in-depth knowledge of federal campaign finance laws as it applies to corporations. Recent changed resulting from legislation and litigation will also be discussed.

The seminar will be held on April 30, 2014, at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) headquarters in Washington, D.C. The session will also be a webinar available on the Internet.

Click here for more information. Clerk here for a printable seminar brochure and agenda.

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