Tribune Finally Finds Oberweis Fine

McHenry County Blog had the story about the $21,000 fine imposed on Jim Oberweis by the Federal Election Commission on January 24h.

I went to the source and found out from Oberweis himself. He told me that his decision was made from a cost-benefit point of view. It was cheaper to pay the proposed fine than the lawyers.

The Chicago Tribune’s Rich Pearson ran the story July 27th, more than six months after McHenry County Blog.

Here’s what the FEC said about Oberweis yesterday:

Oberweis Dairy, Inc. (Oberweis Dairy) is a family-owned business serving Illinois, Indiana and Missouri. James D. Oberweis, the Chairman of Oberweis Dairy, was a Senate candidate in Illinois in 2004. According to the complaint, Oberweis Dairy made, and Oberweis for U.S. Senate 2004 (the Committee) received, prohibited corporate in-kind contributions. The complaint alleged Oberweis Dairy ran coordinated television advertisements featuring James D. Oberweis that were targeted to Illinois voters within 120 days of the Illinois Primary election held on March 16, 2004. The complaint also alleged the Committee utilized Oberweis Dairy employees and facilities to arrange fundraising events and organize a “meet and greet” sweepstakes.

In the summer of 2003, Oberweis Dairy began its first television advertisement campaign, broadcasting the “Sunny Side Up” ad featuring James Oberweis on Chicago area local and cable television shows from December 2003 to January 2004. Oberweis Dairy spent approximately $6,224 on production costs for the ad and an additional $37,630 for airtime costs.

The Commission found reason to believe respondents violated the Act because the “Sunny Side Up” ad met the requirements of the Commission’s coordinated communication regulation and therefore constituted an in-kind contribution from Oberweis Dairy to Oberweis for U.S. Senate 2004. Respondents contended they acted in good faith and on the advice of counsel and agreed to pay a $21,000 civil penalty to avoid protracted litigation.

FEC Commissioner Hans A. von Spakovsky disagreed with the decision and defended Oberweis in an eight-page memo.

He argued that the Oberweis decision is based on a misreading of a FEC advisory opinion says that “a candidate’s appearance in a communication would be sufficient to conclude that the candidate was materially involved in decisions regarding the communication. The dissenter argues that ”content control” must be proven as well as the candidate’s appearance in an ad. He also points out that Oberweis Dairy consulted “an attorney at a well-known law firm” who is “now an adjunct profession at a very well- respected law school” before cutting the ad.

McHenry County Blog observed that this summer’s Oberweis Dairy television ads, while containing Jim Oberweis, are much less blatant than previous ones.

There was also this about State Senator Chris Lauzen:

In MUR 5722, the Commission found no reason to believe Illinois State Senator Chris Lauzen violated the Act’s registration and reporting requirements for Federal candidates. The Commission also dismissed with admonishments allegations against Mr. Lauzen and his State campaign committee regarding the use of nonfederal funds to conduct polling activities to determine whether to run for U.S. Congress.

Both Lauzen and Oberweis are planning to run for Congress if U.S. Representative Denny Hastert decides to retire.

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Jim Oberweis is seen dipping up ice cream last summer on Paul Caprio’s Family PAC cruise. Want to bet that he’ll be on board doing the same thing on the night of August 9th?

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