Ask the Experts - Employee Personal Political Contributions - State and Federal Communications

May 1, 2018  •  

Ask the Experts – Employee Personal Political Contributions

Before I can make a political contribution using my own funds, my employer requires that I obtain permission first.  Can my employer legally do this?


Yes, employers may require employees to seek preapproval before making personal political contributions. Not only can your employer require this, it’s smart business to do so. Employers may even require preapproval from family members of employees.

This preapproval requirement has evolved as a result of the increased number of jurisdictions enacting pay-to-play laws. A seemingly innocuous contribution by an employee could result in the loss of government contracts, fines, and a ban on future contracting. Criminal sanctions may apply when repeated violations occur. By requiring pre-approval, your employer can properly vet the contribution for compliance with a jurisdiction’s pay-to-play law, including disclosure requirements.

In a majority of jurisdictions, employees covered by pay-to-play laws include officers, partners, directors, senior management, salespersons, and their spouses and dependent children. In Pennsylvania and Kentucky, all employees are covered in the instance of a no-bid contract.

Requiring preclearance of employee personal political contributions is certainly more preferable than imposing a ban on employee contributions, which could result in a violation of applicable labor laws. Various jurisdictions bar employers from retaliating against employees for engaging in political activities, which can include everything from participating in a political rally to making campaign contributions. Even though an employer can require preapproval, an employer cannot directly or indirectly affect an individual’s employment by means of discrimination or threat of discrimination based on the individual’s personal political contributions.

Don’t miss Nola’s October 2022 LobbyComply Pod episode for more information on this important issue.

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