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.
July 27, 2010 •
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has issued two advisory opinions approving the creation of two independent campaign committees which plan to solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, political committees, corporations, labor organizations, and the general public.
The committees plan to use funds to make independent expenditures. Citing the recent Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission as well as a less-well known decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia issued this year called SpeechNow.org v. FEC, the FEC concluded corporations, labor organizations, and political committees may make unlimited independent expenditures from their own funds, and individuals may pool unlimited funds in an independent expenditure-only political committee.
In the case of the independent committee Commonsense Ten, a registered, non-connected political committee (Advisory Opinion 2010-11), the FEC concluded it could solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations, and political committees for the purpose of making independent expenditures.
In the case of Club for Growth, Inc., a 501(c)(4) corporation, (Advisory Opinion 2010-09),the FEC concluded on the same basis provided by Citizens United and SpeechNow.org it could establish and administer a committee to solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals in the general public, including contributions given for specific independent expenditures.
The FEC issued both advisory opinions on a vote of 5 to 1. Commissioner Steven T. Walther dissented in both opinions.
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