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Enforcing federal campaign finance law

The FEC has exclusive jurisdiction over the civil enforcement of the federal campaign finance law.

By law, all enforcement cases must remain confidential until they’re closed.

Considering possible election law violations

Enforcement cases can come from audits, complaints, referrals or self-submissions:

  • Audits: The agency’s monitoring process may detect potential violations through a review of a committee’s reports or through a Commission audit.
  • Complaints: Potential violations may be brought to the Commission’s attention through the complaint process. This process enables anyone to file a sworn complaint alleging violations and explaining the basis for the allegations.
  • Referrals: The referral process enables other government agencies to refer possible violations to the FEC.
  • Self-submissions: Any person or entity who believes it has committed a violation may bring the matter sua sponte to the Commission’s attention.

Audits of political committees

Generally, the Commission audits a committee under two circumstances:

  1. When a committee participates in publicly financed Presidential campaigns, or
  2. When it appears that a committee has not met substantial compliance for reporting.

Learn more about the audit process and search audit reports.

Complaints

Anyone can submit a complaint if they believe a violation of the law has occurred or is about to occur.

Learn more about the complaint process.

Programs for handling enforcement cases

Enforcement cases are primarily handled by the Office of General Counsel and are known as Matters Under Review (MURs).

Other programs designed to augment the Office of General Counsel's enforcement role include the Alternative Dispute Resolution Program and the Administrative Fine Program.

Matters Under Review (MURs)

Because the public has the right to know the outcome of any enforcement proceeding, redacted files for closed enforcement matters are made available to the public within 30 days after the parties involved have been notified that the entire matter has been closed.

Alternative Dispute Resolution Program

Alternative Dispute Resolution is a series of procedures for resolving enforcement matters through mutual consent of the parties involved.

Learn more about the program and search closed cases.

Administrative Fine Program

The Administrative Fine Program assesses civil money penalties for late or non-filed reports.

Learn more about the program, calculate a fine and search closed cases.

Enforcement statistics and process documents

Enforcement statistics track the number of FEC enforcement matters resolved and associated penalties.

Enforcement process documents: The Commission has released a number of documents relating to enforcement and compliance processes in an effort to increase transparency and make internal documents available to the public.