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Conway v. Federal Election Commission

United States District Court, W.D. Kentucky

August 20, 2013

CONWAY FOR SENATE, PLAINTIFF
v.
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, DEFENDANT

Decided August 19, 2013

For Conway for Senate, Plaintiff: Glenn D. Denton, Denton & Keuler, LLP, Paducah, KY.

For Federal Election Commission, Office of General Counsel, Defendant: Benjamin A. Streeter, III, Greg J. Mueller, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Federal Election Commission, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Charles R. Simpson III, Senior United States District Judge.

Page 749

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Conway for Senate, the principal campaign committee for Jack Conway in his 2010 campaign for United States Senate, brought this action to challenge a civil monetary penalty assessed against it by Defendant Federal Election Commission (" FEC" ) for failing to file a required report. The parties have cross-moved for summary judgment (DNs 15 and 16). For the reasons stated herein, the FEC's motion for summary judgment will be granted.

I.

Pursuant to the Federal Election Campaign Act (" FECA" ), a principal campaign committee for a candidate for the Senate must periodically file various reports, including quarterly reports. 2 U.S.C. § 434(a)(2)(A)(iii). Those quarterly reports are due by the 15th day of the month following the calendar quarter, except that the report for the period ending December 31st (the " year-end report" ) must be filed by January 31st of the following year. Id. To file a report, a campaign committee for a senatorial candidate is required to send it to the Secretary of the Senate, who receives the reports as custodian for the FEC. 2 U.S.C. § 432(g)(1). The Secretary of the Senate must then forward a copy of the report to the FEC within 2 working days. 2 U.S.C. § 432(g)(2).

If a campaign committee fails to timely file reports, the FEC may assess civil penalties against the campaign committee. 2 U.S.C. § 437g(a)(4)(C)(i)(II). FEC regulations set forth a schedule of penalties that takes into account whether the report was not filed or was merely late, how late the report was, the dollar amount of activity in the report, and whether the report was one that is deemed " election sensitive." 11 C.F.R. § 111.43(a)-(c). FEC regulations also detail that reports that are not election sensitive are deemed late if filed after their due dates but within thirty days of the due dates; after that, the reports are

Page 750

considered to be not filed. 11 C.F.R. 111.43(e)(1).

II.

In December of 2010, the FEC sent a notice to Conway for Senate stating that its year-end report was due on January 31, 2011. On January 25, 2011, Conway for Senate sent an envelope containing various reports via FedEx Priority Overnight to the Senate Office of Public Records. According to Conway for Senate, the year-end report was one of the reports in that envelope. The FEC, however, states that it did not receive the year-end report in that envelope.

On February 17, 2011, the FEC sent a notice to R. Wayne Stratton, Conway for Senate's Treasurer, stating that the year-end report had not been filed. On March 10, 2011, Stratton sent a letter to the Senate Office of Public Records protesting that the campaign committee had sent a copy of the year-end report in the January 25, 2011 FedEx shipment. Stratton included with the letter a copy of the year-end report. [1]

In a March 30, 2011 memorandum, the FEC's staff recommended that the FEC find " reason to believe" that a civil penalty of $4,950 should be imposed upon Conway for Senate for having not filed the year-end report. [2] The FEC unanimously approved that recommendation on April 1, 2011. On April 4, 2011, the FEC sent Stratton a letter informing him of the reason-to-believe finding, explaining the basis for the ...


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