June 30, 2011 •
FEC Allows Limited Federal Candidate Solicitations for Independent Expenditure-Only Political Committees
The Federal Election Commission issued two advisory opinions today, including one allowing federal candidates to solicit contributions for independent expenditure-only political committees (IEOPC) up to $5,000.
In AO 2011-12 revised draft A, which was approved unanimously by the six commissioners, the FEC held solicitations by federal candidates are restricted to the applicable “limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements” of 2 U.S.C. §441i(e)(1)(a). While an IEOPC may accept unlimited contributions, the commission held the law still restricts the contribution amount a federal candidate may solicit. Therefore, although federal officeholders and candidates, and officers of national party committees cannot solicit unlimited contributions for an IEOPC, they may still make solicitations within the monetary strictures of the amended Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971.
The advisory opinion also concluded federal officeholders and candidates, and national party officers, may attend, speak at, and be featured guests at fundraisers held by an IEOPC, even when unlimited contributions are simultaneously being solicited from corporations, individuals, and labor organizations. The federal candidate would have to restrict their personal solicitation at the event to the amounts limited by the law.
A second advisory opinion was also issued granting Viacom a press exemption from reporting expenses as contributions, with some exceptions, for its employee Stephen Colbert’s new political action committee, which Mr. Colbert intends to use a vehicle for commentary on the current state of campaign finance.
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