So, the Secretary of State’s Office’s official explanation for the car stuff is, basically, that there are rules in place, and everyone, including Mark Martin and Doug Matayo, follows the rules to the letter?
You may recall that Matayo ran for U.S. Congress last year (AR-03). While he did get an endorsement from Ted-Nugent-Super-Fan Mike Huckabee, Matayo nevertheless lost in the primary.
Apparently, Matayo decided that, if he wasn’t going to win the office, he couldn’t be bothered to file the correct paperwork any longer.
Judging just from that link to his FEC reporting page, it seems that:
- Matayo did not file a second-quarter report, and he was sent a Notice of Failure to File on 8/3/2010.
- Matayo did not file a third-quarter report, and he was sent a Notice of Failure to File on 11/4/2010.
- Matayo did not file a year-end report, and he was sent a Notice of Failure to File on 2/16/2011.
In each of these Notices, Matayo was told:
IT HAS COME TO THE ATTENTION OF THE FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION THAT YOU MAY HAVE FAILED TO FILE THE ABOVE REFERENCED REPORT OF RECEIPTS AND EXPENDITURES AS
REQUIRED BY THE FEDERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN ACT, AS AMENDED.
THE FAILURE TO TIMELY FILE THIS REPORT MAY RESULT IN CIVIL MONEY PENALTIES, AN AUDIT OR LEGAL ENFORCEMENT ACTION. THE CIVIL MONEY PENALTY CALCULATION FOR LATE REPORTS DOES NOT INCLUDE A GRACE PERIOD AND BEGINS ON THE DAY FOLLOWING THE DUE DATE FOR THE REPORT. DUE TO HEIGHTENED SECURITY SCREENING MEASURES, DELIVERY OF MAIL BY THE US POSTAL SERVICE MAY BE DELAYED. THE COMMISSION RECOMMENDS THAT YOU SUBMIT YOUR REPORT VIA OVERNIGHT DELIVERY OR COURIER SERVICE.
Wanting to make sure that Matayo did not file reports later that were just not uploaded to the FEC website for whatever reason, I contacted the FEC directly to ask about it.
I noticed that his committee had failed to file quarterly reports for June, October, and December 2010[….] I am curious whether the proper quarterly reports were ever filed, or if Mr. Matayo remains in violation of the reporting requirements for Congressional candidates?
Thank you for your recent e-mail to the FEC[….]
You are on the right track in regards to looking at reports for the Matayo Election Committee, http://query.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00478727. The last report filed is the Pre-Primary filed on 5/6/2010.
If you would like to see if any enforcement action has been taken against the committee, please use our Enforcement Query System, http://eqs.nictusa.com/eqs/searcheqs. Please note, EQS only contains case that have been closed.
An EQS search returned nothing, meaning that any action against Matayo, if one exists, is still pending.
But what about that “civil money penalties” reference in the Notices? Well, depending on whether a report is considered “election sensitive,” the fines are calculated in one of two ways, as found in 11 CFR 111.43.
First, the “activity level” is calculated. Where the report is not filed at all, “Estimated level of activity” is used, and it is defined as: For an authorized committee, total receipts and disbursements reported in the current two-year election cycle divided by the number of reports filed to date covering the activity in the current two-year election cycle. Looking at Matayo’s last filing in May 2010, the total receipts plus disbursements is $44,831. The number of reports filed by Matayo is two. So the estimated activity level is $22,415.50, and the fine for non-filing of an election-sensitive report is calculated as :
$1,400 x [1 + (.25 x Number of previous violations)]. Matayo does not technically have previous violations as of right now because no fine/punishment has been imposed for his mid-year failure to file. So his failure to file the October report would be fined as $1,400.
The mid-year and end-of-year reports are not considered election sensitive, so the fine for each of them is calculated:
$550 x [1 + (.25 x Number of previous violations)]. Again, no previous violations, so $550 for each, for a grand total (including October) of $2500.
That doesn’t sound like a ton of money, of course. But it could theoretically get worse; under 2 U.S.C. § 437g(d):
(d) Penalties; defenses; mitigation of offenses
(1)(A) Any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of any provision of this Act which involves the making, receiving, or reporting of any contribution, donation, or expenditure –
(i) aggregating $25,000 or more during a calendar year shall be fined under title 18, or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both; or
(ii) aggregating $2,000 or more (but less than $25,000) during a calendar year shall be fined under such title, or imprisoned for not more than 1 year, or both.
(2) In any criminal action brought for a violation of any provision of this Act or of chapter 95 or chapter 96 of title 26, any defendant may evidence their lack of knowledge or intent to commit the alleged violation by introducing as evidence a conciliation agreement entered into between the defendant and the Commission under subsection (a)(4)(A) of this section which specifically deals with the act or failure to act constituting such violation and which is still in effect.
(3) In any criminal action brought for a violation of any provision of this Act or of chapter 95 or chapter 96 of title 26, the court before which such action is brought shall take into account, in weighing the seriousness of the violation and in considering the appropriateness of the penalty to be imposed if the defendant is found guilty, whether –
(A) the specific act or failure to act which constitutes the violation for which the action was brought is the subject of a conciliation agreement entered into between the defendant and the Commission under subparagraph (a)(4)(A);
(B) the conciliation agreement is in effect; and
(C) the defendant is, with respect to the violation involved, in compliance with the conciliation agreement.
Now, maybe it’s just me, but I think, if I were Doug Matayo, I’d go ahead and get in touch with the FEC (if he hasn’t already) and start working toward a conciliation agreement. That seems like a much better strategy than just hoping they will go away or that no one will care whether you’ve filed or not.
In the meantime, I’m just going to go ahead and doubt any explanations based on self-policing that come from that office.