Today, we finalize the attached administrative settlement following public comment. The agreement resolves serious allegations about misrepresentations made by respondents in connection with their telephone fundraising efforts on behalf of a non-profit organization. We present our views on one particular provision in the Order to ensure that it is not misconstrued to suggest to some that the Commission is steering in a new direction.
Part V of the Order provides respondents with a limited rebuttable presumption that they have exercised good faith in complying with key injunctive provisions of the Order, if respondents show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that they have established and maintained the education and compliance program mandated in Part IV. In this case, including this provision is acceptable.
Part IV of the Order establishes numerous and significant monitoring and education requirements designed to ensure that respondents make no deceptive representations in connection with any charitable solicitations by telephone. These requirements include, but are not limited to: disseminating a brochure that discusses the obligations of a professional fundraiser to current and future employees and agents (Part IV.A); monitoring a random and representative sample of employees and agents in each location from which solicitations are made to ensure compliance with the injunctive provisions (Part IV.C); and taping a random and representative sample of telephone solicitations in each location in which solicitations are made and reviewing a random sample of at least 1000 such calls every 30 days to ensure compliance with the injunctive provisions (Part IV.D). Part IV.E further requires that respondents terminate any employee or agent who makes more than one material representation that violates the injunctive provisions in any consecutive twelve-month period.
Given the circumstances of this case as well as the strength and scope of the monitoring and education requirements in Part IV, we are of the view that the limited rebuttable presumption delineated in Part V is acceptable. (Under current law, good faith is among those factors relevant to determining an appropriate civil penalty amount where an order has been violated. See United States v. Danube Carpet Mills, Inc. 737 F.2d 998, 993-94 (11th Cir. 1984); United States v. Reader's Digest Ass'n, 662 F.2d 955, 967-68 (3d Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 908 (1982)). This provision does not establish a defense to any subsequent enforcement actions. Similarly, it in no way precludes the Commission from taking action should it determine that respondents are not in full compliance with any final order. Furthermore, the Commission continues to adhere to its Policy Statement Concerning Errors and Omissions Clauses in Consent Decrees, 59 Fed. Reg. 34440 (July 5, 1994). We consider it highly unlikely that other facts would present themselves -- in the administrative or federal court context -- that would warrant application of the same or a similar rebuttable presumption.