May 6, 2021 •
FEC Recommendations to Congress Include a Request to Prohibit Unintentional Recurring Contributions
On May 6, a unanimous Federal Election Commission (FEC) sent a message to the U.S. Congress: prohibit political campaigns from using tactics that unwittingly enter donors into recurring contributions.
As part of a package of legislative recommendations approved at its open meeting, the bipartisan commission asked Congress to amend current federal campaign finance law to require “affirmative consent” by donors if a political entity wants the donors enrolled in a program of recurring contributions.
As reported by the New York Times last month, campaigns involved with former President Donald J. Trump steered large numbers of their political contributors, without the contributors’ realization, into repeated periodic donations though prechecked boxes (for authorization) included on what many donors thought was a one-time payment form. The tactic has also been used by groups supporting Democratic candidates, including Actblue and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
In its legislative recommendation, the FEC stated “that many contributors are unaware of the ‘pre- checked’ boxes and are surprised by the already completed transactions appearing on account statements.”
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