Sept. 2 — The Federal Election Commission is set to start removing from its disclosure database by the end September campaign finance filings it believes are bogus, including filings by “God,” “Satan” and many others.
Last month, the FEC announced a new FEC interim procedure allowing agency staff to weed out filings that “appear to be unlawfully false or fictitious” (See previous story, 08/19/16).
The FEC says it has received hundreds of suspect filings, including a statement of candidacy for “H.M. Satan Lord of the Underworld Prince of Darkness” and the registration of a campaign committee for “God for President”.
The FEC sent a notice to about 300 filers of suspect forms on Aug. 31, giving them until Sept. 29 to correct or withdraw their filings. Those who fail to respond will have their forms removed from the FEC's searchable database of candidate and political committee filings, the agency's notice said.
The notice said that, by removing the filings from its database, the FEC was not waiving its authority to pursue enforcement for false filings.
The FEC's new policy is meant to deal with an old problem that is getting worse, according to agency officials. The FEC routinely receives filings that appear to be jokes. Yet, these filings in the past have been accepted and dutifully included in the FEC website and database.
The FEC commissioners recently authorized staff to send verification letters to filers that list fictional characters, obscene language, sexual references, celebrities, animals or “similarly implausible entries” as the name or contact information of the candidate or committee.
“The new procedure comes in response to an increase this election cycle in the filing of registration and statement of candidacy forms (FEC Forms 1 and 2) that provide patently false candidate or treasurer names, questionable contact or bank information, or material that does not relate to campaign finance, such as drawings, essays and personal court records,” the FEC's Aug. 18 announcement said.
The Aug. 31 FEC notice sent to suspect filers is known as a request for more information—or RFAI. The notice drew the attention of agency observers, who joked that the FEC was taking on God and the devil.
Ellen Weintraub, a Democratic FEC commissioner responded with a quip on Twitter: “The FEC has no opinion on the existence of God. But if she wants to run for U.S. President, she has to fill out her forms like anyone else.”
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