Blog Category: FEC
“If the question is: Does the aggregate limit [on contributions] to candidates and party committees stop someone from spending all the money they want on politics? The answer is clearly no,” said David Mason, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and senior vice president at the political software and compliance firm Aristotle.
But that’s not the question before the court, Mason said. The justices must instead decide whether they agree with McCutcheon that the aggregate contribution limit poses no corruption risk to candidates or parties. McCutcheon, who’s been joined by the Republican National Committee in his challenge, argues it’s no more corrupting for him to give the maximum $2,600 to 17 candidates than, say, 18 candidates…
By: Ashley Carter
Manager, PAC Outsourcing
On October 8, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. FEC. A case that some are calling the “new Citizens United,” McCutcheon challenges the constitutionality of biennial contribution limits.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or BCRA, established biennial aggregate contribution limits for individuals ($74,600 for contributions to non-candidate committees and $48,600 for contributions to candidate committees).
“The only place the Federal Election Commission regulations would come into play is if he’s actually making a campaign stop,” said former FEC Chairman David Mason. “If it’s just political in the sense that he’s out there campaigning for his political agenda — immigration reform, health care — there’s certainly no FEC requirement that anybody else reimburse the White House.”
By: Ashley Carter
Outsourcing Account Manager
On June 27th, the Federal Election Commission passed an interpretive rule that clarified how political committees must report the “ultimate payee” for credit card payments, reimbursements to individuals and unreimbursed payments by candidates. While the reporting method outlined in the new rule has been the prescribed form of disclosure for years, it is important for the filing community to understand what this rule means for disclosure and recordkeeping practices.
Year-end FEC filings show campaigns using Aristotle software raised more money in 2012 election cycle
Patent-Pending Data Mining Techniques Powering Election-Year Fundraising Success
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2013 /PRNewswire/ – Post-Election reports filed by 1,689 candidates with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show that those campaigns that used Aristotle software performed significantly better in fundraising than those who used any one of the next three most popular software products for fundraising and disclosure utilized in 2012.
Read the full article here >>
Since April, most of the TV ads supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney have come from outside groups, not from Romney’s own campaign. And those groups raised more than half of their money from secret donors, according to a six-month study of ads…
Citizens United allowed corporate spending in support of individual candidates. But former Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason says the big effect was on donors’ thinking.
“I think there are two things going on. One is that the explosion of reported spending sort of encouraged more big donors to get into this space, to give large sums of money and be more active in politics,” Mason says.
Read the full article here >>
Those of you who struggle to comply with election law probably have a lot of choice words for it.
Super-election lawyer Jan Baran kicked off a recent PLI conference on election law with “arcane”. Jan cited a New York Times crossword clue looking for the a-word with the text “like election law.”
For Aristotle clients, and the 200 or so compliance professionals who sat through the 2 day PLI program, this is no surprise, but it is notable that this fact has crept into popular (well, at least New York Times-popular) consciousness.
While no one who has had to deal with the enforcement process at the Federal Election Commission enjoys it, the FEC has put significant emphasis in recent years on dismissing unjustified complaints. The Commission uses a “no reason to believe” (no RTB) finding to express its conclusion that a complaint was not justified.
Getting that No RTB finding is now a lot harder thanks to a ruling by a Federal court here in Washington. In LaBotz v. FEC, D.D.C., Civil Action No. 11-1247 (RC), the court’s opinion concluded that the FEC improperly dismissed a complaint by a minor party candidate who had been excluded from a debate. The judge ruled the dismissal improper because the Commission lacked “substantial evidence” to support its decision, arguing it was based on a weak affidavit. (The affiant did not claim personal knowledge of the facts involved and presented no contemporaneous evidence to support its claims.)
Pay to play (P2P) laws prohibit government contractors and key contractor employees from making contributions to the campaigns of politicians who may be able to influence the award of government business.
P2P rules have proliferated, often including “death penalty” provisions such as contracting bans, voiding contracts, or even requiring contractors to provide services without compensation. And sometimes it is not clear which officials may be in a position to influence a contract.
We had heard that some financial firms reacted by prohibiting employees from making political contributions altogether. We recently ran across a firm with a policy nearly that broad.
A self-appointed nanny group has asked NBC to ban Super PAC ads during the Olympic Games. Their argument? They claim such ads go “against the spirit and values of the Olympic Games.” This is on top of the ad the Obama campaign is running during the opening ceremony and the Olympic Committee’s ban on use of their footage in political ads.
If you ask me, the Olympics long ago gave up the pretense of being limited to amateur athletes, so what is the “spirit” that’s being protected from politics?
Take the International Olympic Committee’s $4 billion-plus fee from NBC for the latest broadcast rights, including nearly $1.2 billion for the London Games alone. Then note that tickets for the opening ceremonies in London can set spectators back more than $3,000 a seat. That is more than a presidential campaign is allowed to charge.
A multi-event package for this year’s summer games is more expensive than a Super PAC fundraiser.
To recover most of its costs, NBC is selling ads. Leading sponsors include carmakers, fast food emporia, smart phone manufacturers, and purveyors of all manner of luxury goods.
I have nothing against fast food, fast cars, fast phones and flashy watches. But in the midst of the multi-billion dollar commercialized extravaganza of the modern Olympics, the “spirit” of the games is a poor excuse to censor discussion about a presidential election.
The efforts to ban political ads and footage are really nothing more than efforts to force those these groups disagree with to shut up. Surely, that’s not in the spirit of the games.
David M. Mason, a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, is senior vice president, compliance services at Aristotle International.