Campaign finance regulators have imposed a rare fine on a government contractor for illegally donating to a federal candidate.
The decision marked a moment of unusual unanimity at the Federal Election Commission, where a 2-2 partisan split and a pair of vacancies usually results in deadlock. But this time, the agency agreed to fine Ring Power Corp., which sells and leases industrial machinery and construction equipment, $9,500 for its donations to help Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, when he ran successfully for the Senate last year.
It has been against the law for 75 years for companies with federal contracts to give to congressional or presidential candidates. Ring Power, based in St. Augustine, Fla., has been a contractor for a dozen years, according to a settlement agreement between the company and the FEC that was finalized last week.
The New Republican PAC, a super PAC backing Scott, returned the contractor's $50,000 gift last summer after theCampaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, filed a complaint.
"We were concerned that the FEC might allow the violation to slide because the contribution was refunded, but that didn't happen," CLC's Brendan Fischer told Roll Call. "We are certainly pleased that the FEC is continuing to enforce the ban on government contractors making political contributions, which is designed to prevent pay-to-play in the contracting process."
Molineaux and Nevins are co-founders of the Bridge Alliance, a coalition of 100 democracy strengthening organizations. (Disclosure: The Bridge Alliance Education Fund is a funder of The Fulcrum.)
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The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.
Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.
The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.
Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.
With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.