May 31, 2012
FEC Advisory Opinion 2012-12: Dunkin' Brands or Dunkin' PAC may solicit voluntary contributions to its separated segregated fund from its non-corporate franchisees/licensees, as well as from the executive and administrative personnel of its corporate franchisees/licensees, because Dunkin' Brands and its franchisees/licensees are "affiliated" within the meaning of the Act and Commission regulations. The Commission found affiliation to exist because Dunkin' Brands maintains significant continuing control and direction over its franchisees/licensees and is similar to the control described in Advisory Opinion 1979-38 (Hardee's) and Advisory Opinion 1988-46 (Collins Food). FEC Advisory Opinion 2012-13: Physician-owned hospitals, associations of physician-owned hospitals, and the individual physicians who own the hospitals may make contributions to independent expenditure-only political committees, in spite of the fact that such hospitals, associations of the hospitals, or individuals who own the hospitals, provide services to patients through Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, and CHAMPUS. Medicare and Medicaid do not qualify as Federal contractors and TRICARE and CHAMPUS, programs programmatically similar, also do not qualify as Federal contractors. FEC Advisory Opinion 2012-14: The Federal Election Commission lacks the power to find that the 2011-2012 election cycle aggregate limit of $46,200 imposed for contributions to candidates and authorized candidate committees is unconstitutional. Thus, individuals must abide by this limitation. Additionally, the FEC issued legislative recommendations for 2012 that were adopted on May 10, 2012. Recommendations include:
- 2 U.S.C. 432(g) and 434(a)(11) (“Electronic Filing of Senate Reports”): Requiring electronic filing for all Senate candidates and authorized committees if they have, or have reason to expect to have, aggregate contributions or expenditures in excess of the threshold amount determined by the Commission (currently $50,000.00). Because Senate candidates file with the Secretary of the Senate, the mandatory electronic filing provisions do not currently apply to Senate candidates and their committees.
- 2 U.S.C. 437g (“Making Permanent the Administrative Fine Program for Reporting Violations”): Congress should make permanent the Commission’s authority to assess administrative fines for straightforward violations of the law requiring timely reporting of receipts and disbursements. Currently, the Commission’s Administrative Fine Program only covers violations relating to reporting periods through December 31, 2013.
- 2 U.S.C. 441h (“Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Campaign Authority”): Congress should revise the prohibitions on fraudulent misrepresentation of campaign authority to encompass all persons purporting to act on behalf of candidates and real or fictitious political committees and political organizations. In addition, Congress should remove the requirement that the fraudulent misrepresentation must pertain to a matter that is “damaging” to another candidate or political party.
- 2 U.S.C. 439a (“Conversion of Campaign Funds”): Congress should amend FECA’s prohibition of the personal use of campaign funds to extend its reach to all political committees. The Commission has seen a rise in situations where an individual with access to political committee funds used such funds in unauthorized disbursements for their own accord. Implementing a corresponding provision to cover individuals who illegally convert contributions received by party committees, separate segregated funds, leadership PACs, and other political committees to their own personal use would address this growing problem.