June 30, 2011 •
Colbert’s PAC Prevails Too
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.
June 30, 2011 •
June 30, 2011 •
Live from the FEC and Stephen Colbert is there, too!
Elizabeth Bartz, President and CEO of State and Federal Communications is attending the Federal Election Commission Open Meeting where Stephen Colbert will be answering questions about his super PAC. You can follow her tweets covering the event at @ElizabethBartz. Be sure to follow Dan Backer’s @DBCapStrategies tweets – he is also covering the event.
There is a live broadcast of the FEC Open Meeting here.
Elizabeth Bartz tweets: “We are starting. Mr. Colbert’s request is first. Then there will be a break so people can leave.”
Here are a few pictures she took while waiting for and from inside the event:
June 15, 2011 •
Two Bank Accounts
A Federal District Court judge has issued an injunction preventing the Federal Election Commission (FEC) from enforcing some campaign contribution limits against a political action committee planning to solicit and accept unlimited contributions.
As a single committee, the National Defense Political Action Committee (NDPAC) intends to contribute directly to candidates and political committees, and to make independent expenditures, separating the funds by using two separate bank accounts. It would maintain the statutory limits on the solicitation of funds used for direct contributions while simultaneously seeking unlimited funds for use in their independent expenditures.
The FEC had been unable to issue a binding resolution to an earlier NDPAC advisory opinion request.
In Carey v. FEC, United States District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer ruled the FEC may not enforce 2 U.S.C. §§ 441a(a)(1)(C) and 441a(a)(3), which outline contribution limits for political committees and candidates, against NDPAC with regard to independent expenditures as long as NDPAC maintains separate bank accounts, proportionally pays related administrative costs, and complies with the applicable monetary limits of each type of contribution.
The FEC maintained NDPAC should establish a second formal committee.
May 27, 2011 •
Tips for Treasurers provides tools “to help you meet your obligations under the federal campaign finance law.”
The following was announced on the Federal Election Commission’s “Tips for Treasurers” page on May 23:
“The FEC’s Public Records Office and Press Office have launched a web page to track new committee registrations. Updated daily at 7:00 a.m. Eastern, it is available at http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/new_form1dt.shtml.
May 24, 2011 •
FEC Advisory Opinion Requested
The House Majority PAC and the Majority PAC, two independent expenditure entities, formally requested an advisory opinion from the Federal Election Commission asking whether federal officeholders and candidates may solicit unlimited contributions on behalf of PACs. The request was sparked by the newly created Republican Super PAC, founded by James Bopp, and its plan to ask candidates to solicit and direct unlimited contributions on its behalf.
These solicited funds would be earmarked for independent expenditures supporting or opposing specifically designated candidates. Additionally the request asks if candidates may participate in fundraisers for PACs even if they cannot solicit contributions.
April 21, 2011 •
Lawsuit and Petition Filed
U.S. Representative Chris Van Hollen has filed both a lawsuit against the FEC and a petition at the FEC seeking to challenge regulations of disclosure requirements of contributions for “electioneering communications” and “independent expenditures”. In Van Hollen v. FEC, he claims the FEC regulation 11 CFR §104.20(c)(9), which requires disclosure only of those making contributions over $1,000 to an entity for the purpose of furthering electioneering communications, contradicts the statute which requires disclosure of all donors making contributions over $1,000.
The separately filed petition with the FEC requests they revise and amend regulations currently allowing independent expenditure groups to not reveal donors giving over $200 except for those contributors who gave for the purpose of furthering the reported independent expenditure. Representative Van Hollen alleges this contradicts the statute, which requires disclosure of all donors who gave over $200 to the entity.
April 5, 2011 •
Prior formats will not be accepted
Reports using earlier versions will not be accepted.
Those using commercial software are advised to contact his or her vendor to ensure compliance with the latest electronic filing format.
March 23, 2011 •
Coordinated Expenditure Limits Remain
The Supreme Court has denied a petition for a writ of certiorari challenging the limits a political party can spend in coordination with a candidate, leaving in place the $5,000 limits on party contributions to candidates. In Cao v. FEC, the Republican National Committee had argued making their expenditures in coordination with Louisiana Congressman Anh “Joseph” Cao, as opposed to making completely independent expenditures for him, constituted both Representative Cao’s and the RNC’s free speech.
The District Court Eastern District of Louisiana, following a prior judgment from the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit on other grounds, found 2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(2)(A), limiting the amount of the contributions, constitutional. The RNC’s appeal had been filed by James Bopp, Jr.
This post is follows two previous Lobby Comply articles by George Ticoras:
“$5,000 Contribution Limit Upheld” from November 22, 2010
“RNC Argues for Coordinated Campaign Spending” from December 13, 2010
Photo of the U.S. Supreme Court Building inscription by UpstateNYer on Wikipedia.
March 17, 2011 •
FEC Allows Internet Method
The FEC has released an Interpretive Rule Regarding Electronic Contributor Redesignations. A contribution made for one election may be applied to another election if the redesignation is in writing and signed by the contributor, according to commission regulations.
The commission has found a certain method of electronic redesignation meets this requirement. The method, described in the commission’s interpretive rule, requires the contributor visiting a website to fill out an electronic form authorizing the redesignation and to verify their identity by entering their personal information, including his or her first and last name, address, phone number, e-mail address, occupation, and name of his or her employer. The commission found this process sufficiently equivalent to a written signature.
February 3, 2011 •
Biennial Limit Now $117,000
The Federal Election Commission has published the 2011-2012 election cycle contribution limits adjusted for inflation. The revised limits, indexed according to the consumer price index, include raising the amount an individual and certain PACs can contribute to a candidate from $2,400 to $2,500 and to a national party committee from $30,400 to $30,800.
The previous biennial limit of $115,500 has been adjusted upward to $117,000, of which $46,200 may be contributed to candidates and $70,800 total to federal PACs and all other political party committees.
December 23, 2010 •
Not Coordinated Activity
The Federal Election Commission has issued Advisory Opinion AO2010-30 Citizens United, allowing Citizens United to rent its email subscriber mailing list to federal candidates, political party committees, and political committees.
The commission concluded the rental is not a coordinated expenditure or a coordinated communication. Citizens United plans to rent its list at fair market prices using a commercial list brokerage firm.
The commission did not have enough votes to approve a response as to whether using the list to solicit contributions or invite recipients to a fundraiser violates the prohibition against corporate facilitation of contributions to candidates or political committees.
November 19, 2010 •
FEC Finds Proposal for Texting Political Contributions Lacking
The Federal Election Commission issued Advisory Opinion 2010-23 denying a request allowing for political contributions to be made through cell phone texting. CTIA, a nonprofit trade association representing the wireless communications industry, proposed a program where political contributions could be made by texting five or six digit code numbers in the same manner which contributions are made for charitable donations. As proposed by CTIA, the contribution would be made at the time the phone user pays their monthly bill which would include the charge from the text pledge.
Over a 30-day period, a connection aggregator would collect contributions from all wireless service providers and then transfer the funds to the particular political committee. The Commission found the time frame for contributions to be forwarded to political committees would take longer than permissible under the law, contributions would not be segregated from other corporate funds, and CTIA’s safeguards to ensure the contributions were not from impermissible sources were inadequate.
August 25, 2010 •
The DISCLOSE Act, or the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act, has been the source of controversy and argument this past summer.
The Act was introduced as a response to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. It passed the House, but failed in the Senate before the August recess. It is headed back to the floor for a vote next month when the Senate returns.
The Act would amend the Federal Election Campaign Act as follows:
- Prohibit foreign-controlled domestic corporations from making contributions and expenditures;
- Require that prior to making any contribution or expenditure, the highest ranking official of a corporation must file a certification with the FEC that they are not prohibited from making the contribution or expenditure;
- Declare that a domestic corporation is permitted to create and solicit contributions for a separate segregated fund, as long as a foreign national does not contribute to or have any power or control over the fund;
- Require that any person or corporation that makes an independent expenditures of more than $10,000:
- File a disclosure report within 24 hours of the expenditure; and
- File a new report each time they make or contract to make another expenditures of $10,000 or more;
- Require that certain radio or television ads include a statement identifying the name of the committee responsible for it; and
- Require corporations, labor organization, non-profits, and political organizations to report additional information on their independent expenditure reports, including certain transfers of money.
Photo by Diliff on Wikipedia.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.