Van Hollen Campaign Fined $2,100 by FEC for Mailing

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By Kenneth P. Doyle

The campaign of Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) has agreed to pay a $2,100 fine to the Federal Election Commission for violating rules regarding use of FEC disclosure reports to solicit contributions.

The Van Hollen campaign acknowledged in a conciliation agreement with the FEC that the campaign had mailed a letter to a list of contributor names taken from an FEC report filed by the EMILY’s List political action committee.

Van Hollen, then a U.S. House member, prevailed in a contested Senate primary last year over former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.). EMILY’s list backed Edwards in the primary race. Van Hollen subsequently won the general election for Maryland’s U.S. Senate seat that had been vacated by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.)

Soliciting or Correcting Record?

The Van Hollen campaign letter to EMILY’s List contributors included a solicitation for contributions to Van Hollen. However, lawyers for the Van Hollen campaign said the letter was primarily intended to correct a previous email message sent by EMILY’s List, which misidentified Van Hollen as a Republican.

Federal campaign finance law prohibits using information in FEC disclosure reports to solicit contributions. However, prior FEC rulings have allowed a campaign to use names from FEC reports filed by a political committee for mailings that correct inaccurate information disseminated by that committee, according to a report from the FEC general counsel’s office.

The conciliation agreement resolving the Van Hollen enforcement matter—designated Matter Under Review (MUR) 6993—was approved on a unanimous 5-0 vote of the commissioners.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at kdoyle@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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