Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin has been fined by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for failing to report in a timely and accurate fashion $116,898 in independent expenditures spent in support of Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Russ Feingold during the 2016 elections, according to a settlement released by the commission.
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin's failures to disclose its expenditures were discovered after discrepancies were found in the group's October 2016 quarterly report. The group had marked $133,305.04 worth of independent expenditures on that report, which covered its finances from July 1 to September 30, 2016. However, $116,898.08 of the $133,305.04 worth of expenditures the group showed in the filing was never submitted in any previous 48-hour reports, a requirement for money put towards independent expenditures.
The independent expenditures consisted of $58,449.04 Planned Parenthood Wisconsin in support of Hillary Clinton and an additional $58,449.04 disbursed on the same day in support of former Sen. Feingold (D.), who failed to recapture the Senate seat from Sen. Ron Johnson (R.).
Planned Parenthood made the expenditure on Aug. 31, 2016, but did not publicly disclose the funds in support of the candidates until it had submitted its October quarterly report to the FEC on Oct. 11—almost two months after they were required to do so.
The commission later sent the group a Request for Additional Information (RFAI), in which Planned Parenthood claimed ignorance to the requirements in its response to the commission.
"This report is filed in response to an August 4, 2017 letter from the EEC stating that independent expenditures disclosed on our October 2016 Quarterly Report were not disclosed via 48-hour reports when 48-hour reports were required," Planned Parenthood Wisconsin wrote in a Miscellaneous report filed to the commission on Aug. 31, 2017.
"This error was due to a misunderstanding of the requirements by filing staff, who mistakenly believed 48-hour reports were not required unless expenditures were made within 20 days of the election," it continued. "Staff has since been trained on all required reports and how to monitor aggregate amounts so that appropriate 48-hour reports will be made going forward, in addition to required 24-hour reports. Staff has created an internal memo on reporting so that any new staff filing reports will be appropriately trained before filing. This training has been added to a compliance checklist for election related processes."
The group also filed an amended October 2016 report the same day it had submitted its miscellaneous report that disclosed no changes from the original report in relation to the independent expenditures.
The negotiated settlement recently released by the FEC states that Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin agreed to pay a $5,850 civil penalty by April 6.
Planned Parenthood did not return a request for comment on the fine or its failure to disclose the expenditures by press time.