The federal shutdown has resulted in the furlough of all FEC employees except the Commissioners.  As with most agencies, the greatest impact on the regulated community will appear over time: On-line data will grow stale, advisory opinions will be delayed, enforcement cases will not advance.  The FEC has summarized the process here.

For political committees, there will be a few immediate effects.  Here are some of the more visible ones:

  • Electronic filing.  Reports are due this month from candidate committees (October 15), monthly filers (October 20) and for several special elections.  The FEC notes that the electronic filing system may continue to work for a period of time during the shutdown, but if it begins to fail, there will be no one there to fix it.  In that case, the FEC has stated that it will not issue administrative fines for late filings if the report is received within 24 hours of the agency re-opening.
  • Paper filers.  Reports due during the shutdown must be filed within 24 hours of the agency reopening.
  • Requests for Additional Information (RFAI) letters, enforcement proceeding and other agency actions requiring a response.  Because the building will be empty, responses to agency action that would otherwise be due during the shutdown will be considered “timely” if filed within 24 hours of the agency reopening.
  • Assistance from the Helpline, the Reports Analysis Division and other agency staff.  These services will end during the shutdown.
  • Conferences and training. The agency has its annual West Coast training conference on October 23-24.  In the event the shutdown continues that long, the conference will be postponed or canceled.

Entities with reports or other documents to file will need to be very attentive to the FEC reopening.  The agency now anticipates all committees will file reports or other documents due during the shutdown in the first 24 hours the agency reopens.  If the crisis drags on, this could create a stampede to the filing window that may challenge the agency’s computer system and staff.  So being attentive to this date and ready to act will help ease the “returning to normal” headaches that are likely to follow the shutdown.

Photo of Robert Lenhard Robert Lenhard

Robert Lenhard is a member of the firm’s Election & Political Law practice group and advises corporations, trade associations, not-for-profit organizations, and high-net-worth individuals on compliance with federal and state campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics laws.

Mr. Lenhard routinely assists clients in…

Robert Lenhard is a member of the firm’s Election & Political Law practice group and advises corporations, trade associations, not-for-profit organizations, and high-net-worth individuals on compliance with federal and state campaign finance, lobbying, and government ethics laws.

Mr. Lenhard routinely assists clients in establishing and operating federal and state PACs, compliance programs associated with campaign finance and pay-to-play laws; advises advocacy groups and their donors; conducts compliance trainings and audits of federal and state lobbying and political programs; and counsels clients on compliance with congressional gift and travel rules.

Prior to joining the firm in 2008, Mr. Lenhard served as Chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2007 and Vice Chairman of the agency in 2006, during which time the agency handled over 10 major rulemakings, had among its most productive years in enforcement and audit, and adopted several reforms to the enforcement process.  Mr. Lenhard has also led the Presidential Transition Team that reviewed the FEC for the incoming Obama administration in 2008-2009.