October 4, 2011 •
FEC Allows Trade Association Limited Solicitation for Federal Candidates
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued an Advisory Opinion stating a “project” created by a trade association may make certain communications to the general public asking individuals to contribute directly to particular federal candidates.
The Utah Bankers Association (U.B.A.) had requested the Advisory Opinion. It intends to solicit the general public through its website and e-mail, as well as through the website of “Friends of Traditional Banking,” a project created for this purpose. There will be no coordination with any candidate and no contributions will be accepted or forwarded to federal candidate’s committees.
In Advisory Opinion 2011-14, the Commission concluded the expenses for soliciting contributions through a trade association’s own website and e-mail is not an in-kind contribution because an internet communication is not a “public communication” if it “is not placed for a fee on another person’s website,” and therefore does not meet the content prong test of coordinated communications. The Commission also found U.B.A.’s plan is not “electioneering communications” which are limited to broadcast, cable, or satellite communications
Other questions related to the U.B.A. request were also addressed in the opinion.
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