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Timely Tips Archive 2010

This page provides a comprehensive list of helpful tips that have appeared during 2010 on our Resources for Committee Treasurers page. These tips are intended to help treasurers meet their obligations under the federal campaign finance law. To suggest a tip, please e-mail us at

December 20, 2010 Time to Take Stock and Prepare for 2011. Happy holidays! As you prepare for the new year, it's a good time to review your FECMail subscriptions to ensure that you're getting the latest information as soon as it's posted. There will be no tip for treasurers next week, but the regular weekly tip will return in January, along with updated reporting schedules, announcements of outreach opportunities and postings of other important information for committee treasurers.
December 13, 2010 ‘Tis the Season for Holiday Greetings. The same disclaimer rules that apply to campaign-related mailings apply to holiday greeting cards as well, even though they usually do not solicit funds or contain express advocacy. If a campaign sends out more than 500 holiday greetings, (i.e., a mass mailing) it must include a box on the card to inform recipients that it was paid for by the campaign committee. A PAC or party committee that sends a holiday mass mailing must include a box on the card that lets recipients know the committee paid for it, identifies the committee's full name and street address, phone number or web address, and states that the communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. For details and examples, see the Commission's brochure, Special Notices on Political Ads and Solicitations.
December 7, 2010 Save the Date! Filling up your calendar for 2011? Be sure to note the dates of FEC training workshops. Registration has already begun for the FEC's January 12 Year-End reporting and e-filing roundtables for PACs, House/Senate campaigns and political party committees. In the spring, the Commission will host a series of one-day seminars for PACs, campaigns and party committees at its headquarters in Washington, DC. Later in the year, we'll offer a pair of two-day regional conferences. Check out the current list of 2011 workshops and be sure to sign up for our conference e-mail list to be notified when registration opens for these workshops and when additional sessions are scheduled.
November 30, 2010 FEC Offices Open Extended Hours for December 2 Reports. The FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) and Electronic Filing Office will be open until 8:00 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, December 2, to help committees complete and file their post-general election reports. RAD analysts will be available to answer committees’ questions on reporting specific transactions, and E-Filing staff will be on hand to address any technical issues filers may encounter. To reach these offices, call 1-800/424-9530 and press 4 for the E-Filing Office or press 5 for RAD. Locally, call RAD at (202) 694-1130 and the E-Filing Office at (202) 694-1307.
November 29, 2010 FEC Post-General Report Due December 2. Reminder: The Post-General Report is due for PACs, party committees and all general election candidates on Thursday, December 2. This report covers the time period from the date where your last report left off through November 22. All PACs and party committees registered with the FEC are reminded that they must file this report on time, regardless of activity. House and Senate campaigns are reminded that they must file this report using the Post-Election Detailed Summary Page. [Form/Instructions].
November 22, 2010 Reporting Transition Costs. Campaigns of retiring officeholders should review new Advisory Opinion 2010-26, in which the Commission ruled that a retiring Congressman may use campaign funds to pay temporary storage costs associated with the move back to his home because those costs are an ordinary and necessary expense incurred in connection with his duties as a holder of Federal office and not an illegal "personal use" of campaign funds. The costs are reportable as "other disbursements" on Line 21 of FEC Form 3, with the specific payee(s) and purpose noted. Likewise, in Advisory Opinion 1980-138, the Commission concluded that a Senator-elect could use campaign funds to pay the expense of moving himself and his family to Washington, D.C. for similar reasons, and with the costs similarly reported.
November 15, 2010 I Demand a Recount! In Advisory Opinions 2009-04 and 2006-24, the Commission concluded that funds raised by party committees and federal candidates/officeholders for recount expenses are subject to the limits, prohibitions and reporting requirements of the federal campaign finance law, but are not contributions or expenditures and are not subject to the biennial limit. Committees must disclose funds received for a recount as "Other Receipts" and funds spent as "Other Disbursements." Click on the links to see sample itemization for campaigns and for party committees. More recently, the Commission has addressed the use of funds raised for recount purposes in Advisory Opinion 2010-14 (permitting the use of such funds before an election for certain recount-related purposes) and Advisory Opinion 2010-18 (permitting the redesignation of excess recount funds to a state party committee's federal account).
November 8, 2010 New Election Cycle Begins. November 3, 2010, marked the beginning of a new election cycle for 2012 House campaigns and 2016 Senate campaigns. For reporting purposes, campaigns aggregate receipts and disbursements on an election cycle basis. As a result, all 2010 campaigns must separate--both in their internal records and on their FEC reports--activity that occurred on or after November 3 from activity that occurred prior to that date, regardless of which election it relates to. The campaigns will disclose their separate election-cycle receipts and disbursements on the Post-Election Detailed Summary Page (Instructions) required with the Post-General election report due December 2 (or for campaigns that were not in the general election, with the Year-End report due January 31). To help you prepare these reports, consider attending our "Winding Down the Campaign" roundtable workshop on November 17 (click here for more information).
October 29, 2010 Handy Election Day Links. Tuesday, November 2, is Election Day! The Commission frequently receives questions and e-mails about election-related topics that are not related to campaign finance law, such as:
-Where do I vote?
-How late are the polls open?
-How do I report voter fraud and intimidation?
To help direct voters and other interested parties to the resources that can best help them with these questions, the FEC's Information Division has developed and posted a handy page of non-FEC-related questions it normally receives on Election Day and the federal and state agencies who can answer those questions. Visit to access the Election Day Links page.
October 25, 2010 Last-Minute Filing Frenzy. Many filers may be required to submit additional notices this week to disclose last-minute activity. Campaign committees must disclose within 48 hours any contribution of $1,000 or more received between October 14-October 31. (File FEC Form 6 or our on-line webform.) Individuals and other entities making electioneering communications that aggregate $10,000 or more must also file 24-Hour notices to disclose the funds they raised and spent. (File FEC Form 9 or our on-line webforms.) PACs, party committees, individuals and others making independent expenditures that aggregate $1,000 or more and are made after 10/13 but more than 24 hours before Election Day must file 24-Hour Notices to disclose the expenditures. PACs and party committees report such expenditures using Schedule E [PDF] [Online Webform]. Other filers must use FEC Form 5 [PDF] [Online Webform].
October 18, 2010 Do I Have to File a Pre-General Report? If you are a monthly filing committee, or an authorized committee of a candidate in the 2010 general election, the answer is automatically YES. If you are a quarterly filing PAC or party committee, you must file a pre-general report only if your committee made contributions or expenditures in connection with the general election during the time period October 1-October 13, 2010. The report is due Thursday, October 21.
October 12, 2010 FEC Offices Open Extended Hours for October 15 Reports. The FEC’s Reports Analysis Division (RAD) and Electronic Filing Office will be open until 8:00 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, October 15, to help committees complete and file their quarterly reports. RAD analysts will be available to answer committees’ questions on reporting specific transactions, and E-Filing staff will be on hand to address any technical issues filers may encounter. To reach these offices, call 1-800/424-9530 and press 4 for the E-Filing Office or press 5 for RAD. Locally, call RAD at (202) 694-1130 and the E-Filing Office at (202) 694-1307.
October 4, 2010 FEC Reports Due October 15 and 20. Reminder: Quarterly reports are due Friday, October 15, and Monthly reports are due Wednesday, October 20. If you need last-minute help with your FEC report, here are some resources: Every political committee registered with the FEC has a Campaign Finance Analyst who reviews its reports to ensure that they are accurate and complete. That Analyst is also available to answer your reporting questions. For those who prefer to remain anonymous, Communications Specialists are also available to assist filers with reporting questions. (Note: Tricky issues are best referred to your Analyst, since he/she will be reviewing your report.) To reach these FEC staff members, call toll-free 1-800/424-9530 (press 5 to reach your Analyst or 6 to speak to a Specialist). Reporting help is also available on-line at and in our Campaign Guides. For electronic filing assistance, contact the tech support number for your software vendor. FECFile users may call 1-800/424-9530 (extension 1307) for technical assistance.
September 27, 2010 New video added to FECTube. This week the Information Division added a new presentation to the Commission's E-Learning page regarding redesignations and reattributions of contributions.  The presentation gives an overview of procedures for redesignating or reattributing the excessive portion of contributions received. It is also posted on FECTube, the FEC's video channel on You Tube.
September 20, 2010 New Rules on FEA and Coordinated Communications Published. The Commission recently published two Federal Register notices containing final rules on coordinated communications and federal election activity. These final rules were promulgated in response to the decision of the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in Shays III. Both sets of final rules go into effect on December 1, 2010.
September 13, 2010 September Filing Reminder. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a report due Monday, September 20, covering the month of August.
September 7, 2010 Electioneering Communications Filing Period has Begun. The electioneering communications period for the general election began on September 3 and runs through November 2. Any person who makes electioneering communications that aggregate more than $10,000 during this time period must file disclosure statements with the Commission within 24 hours of the date the electioneering communication is publicly distributed. For more information, click here.
August 30, 2010 FEC Adopts Final Rules on Coordinated Communications and Federal Election Activity. At its open meeting of August 26, the Commission approved final rules on coordinated communications and federal election activity in response to the Shays III litigation. More information is available here.
August 23, 2010 Contribution Limits in Special and Regular General Elections. In several cases this year, a special general election to fill a vacancy will be held on the same date as the regular general election to fill the office for the next term. In these circumstances, candidates have separate contribution limits for each election in which they participate. Therefore, an individual may contribute up to $2,400 for each election to candidates running in both a special and regular general election. Note, however, that campaigns must keep separate records for each of the elections, and must be sure to identify which election limit a contribution applies to when disclosing it on FEC reports. See 11 CFR 100.2, AO 1986-31 and the Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates.
August 18, 2010 August Filing Reminder. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a report due Friday, August 20, covering the month of July.
August 9, 2010 Back to School with the FEC. Registration has begun for several roundtable workshops being held this fall. Subjects covered include pre-election communications, FEC reporting and electronic filing. For more information, visit our Educational Outreach page.
August 3, 2010 One-Stop Shopping for Recent Legal Developments. The Commission has launched a new web page designed to provide comprehensive coverage of the latest legal developments on key campaign finance issues. Currently, the page includes information regarding the recent Citizens United, SpeechNow and EMILY's List court decisions and the FEC's response to them, as well as other pending or recently completed matters involving the Commission. Links to legal documents are supplemented by RECORD newsletter summaries, E-Learning presentations and other relevant materials.
July 23, 2010 FEC Approves AOs on Independent Expenditure-Only Political Committees. The Commission has issued two advisory opinions (AOs 2010-09 and 2010-11) concerning the effect of recent court decisions on groups engaged solely in making independent expenditures. The opinions include the text of a letter that independent expenditure-only committees may use to identify themselves as such, pending forthcoming Commission rulemakings. A new registrant or other paper filer may send this letter with its Statement of Organization (Form 1). Existing committees that file electronically may amend their Statement of Organization by submitting the text of the letter using Form 99.
July 19, 2010 FEC Approves New Audit Procedures. On July 1, the Commission approved a Directive on Processing Audit Reports, a Directive on Legal Guidance to the Office of Compliance, and a Policy Statement Establishing a Pilot Program for Requesting Consideration of Legal Questions by the Commission. The three documents are intended to enhance the efficiency and transparency of the Commission’s reports analysis and audit functions.
July 12, 2010 July Filing Reminder. Quarterly filers have a report due on Thursday, July 15 and monthly filers have a report due on Tuesday, July 20. Active in a primary election? See the Compliance Map and click on your state (or the state in which your quarterly filing PAC or party committee is making contributions or expenditures) for specific filing information pertinent to that primary.
July 7, 2010 New SEC Rules May Affect Your Committee. As a courtesy to the regulated community, the FEC notes that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently approved a rule concerning the ability of certain investment advisers to make or solicit political contributions. Please note that the FEC has no jurisdiction over SEC rules and may not comment upon them. Questions on this new rule should be addressed to the SEC by calling 888/SEC-6585.
June 28, 2010 Georgia Special Election May Affect July Quarterly Filing. A special general run-off election was held in Georgia's 9th district on June 8. Candidates in this election, and quarterly filers who made previously undisclosed contributions or expenditures in connection with this election, must file a Post-Runoff report on Thursday, July 8, covering activity through June 28. For these committees only, the July Quarterly report normally due on July 15 is waived, and the October Quarterly report will cover June 29 through September 30. For more information see the linked notices: [Prior Notice] [Federal Register]
June 14, 2010

June Reporting Reminder. Monthly filing committees are reminded that they have a report due Sunday June 20, covering the month of May 2010. Please note that even though the FEC is not open on the 20th, the due date will not be extended, so plan accordingly to timely file your report. Congressional committees that participated in the following special general elections, as well as quarterly filing PACs or party committees that have made previously undisclosed contributions or expenditures in connection with these special general elections, must file special post-election reports in the next few days. Click the notices linked below for more details:

PA/12 must file a post-general report on Thursday, June 17 [Prior Notice] [Federal Register]

HI/01 must file a post-general report on Monday, June 21 [Prior Notice] [Federal Register]

June 7, 2010 Sign Up Now for Summer Reporting Roundtable Workshops. The Commission will offer workshops on FEC reporting and using FECFile software at its headquarters in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, June 30. Separate workshops will be offered for PACs and party committees and for candidate committees. Openings are still available in all sessions; pre-payment of $25 per workshop required. For more information, or to sign up, go to
June 1, 2010 Registering Your Principal Campaign Committee and Other Authorized Committees. A candidate for office must have one Principal Campaign Committee, and may have additional authorized committees. When filling out your committee's Statement of Organization (FEC Form 1) - be sure that your main committee for the campaign is indicated as the principal campaign committee by checking Box 5A. Any other committees authorized by your candidate (for example, a campaign committee still in existence from a previous election or a joint fundraising committee for a joint fundraiser in which your campaign is participating) should be indicated as such by checking Box 5B on your Statement of Organization.
May 24, 2010 Have you explored the FEC's Disclosure Data Catalog? The FEC is migrating the data from its FTP server to a new location on the FEC web site. In this new Disclosure Data Catalog, you'll be able to download data for each category listed in either CSV or XML formats. Each category also has a metadata page that describes the information included and the structure of the file itself. You can also subscribe to RSS feeds for many of the files so you're notified whenever new data is available or a change is made. For example, under the category "Administrative Fines," you'll find a list of completed cases where committees were penalized for failing to file required disclosure reports in a timely manner, as well as sortable CSV and XML data files regarding those cases allowing the user to sort the data by such fields as date, fine or committee name.
May 17, 2010 May Reporting Reminder. Monthly filers are reminded that they have a report due Thursday, May 20, covering the month of April. Quarterly filers do not have a report due that day. However, unlike monthly filers, if quarterly filers make a contribution or expenditure in connection with a special election or a primary election, they may have to file additional pre- or post-election reports. Thus, quarterly filers should refer to the FEC's compliance map as they make contributions/expenditures, to determine if an additional report is required.
May 10, 2010 Trade Association or Membership Organization? Sometimes membership organizations are not sure whether the more specific rules for trade associations apply to them. While all trade associations are membership organizations under FEC rules, not all membership organizations are trade associations. For example, labor organizations and chambers of commerce fit into the broader definition of membership organization, but do not fit into the definition of a trade association. An organization is a trade association under FEC regulations if its membership is engaged in a similar or related line of commerce or business (i.e., all the members of the organization are in the same industry) and if the organization promotes and tries to improve the business conditions of its membership. To learn more about the rules that apply to trade associations, membership organizations and labor organizations, register now for the FEC's June 8-9 conference in Washington DC for these organizations!
April 26, 2010

EMILY’s List v. FEC Update.  On March 11, 2010, the Federal Election Commission adopted Final Rules to comply with the recent court order in EMILY’s List v. Federal Election Commission, 581 F.3d 1 (DC Cir. 2009) to vacate certain Commission regulations.  The vacated regulations, 11 CFR 100.57, 106.6(c), and 106.6(f), concern funds received in response to solicitations and the allocation of expenses by separate segregated funds (“SSFs”) and nonconnected committees.  The Commission also announced plans to undertake a new rulemaking to consider additional conforming changes consistent with the court decision.  Pending the completion of the second EMILY’s List rulemaking, the Commission is issuing the following interim guidance to the public and committees affected by the EMILY’s List decision, which is in addition to the Commission’s January 12, 2010 statement on the decision:

  • Although they are not required to do so, affected SSFs and nonconnected committees may continue, if they desire, to use Federal funds, or to allocate between Federal and Non-Federal funds, to pay for their administrative expenses, costs of generic voter drives, and public communications that refer to a political party and to report these activities consistent with the vacated regulations pending the Commission’s second EMILY’s List rulemaking.

SSFs and nonconnected committees with specific questions about their reporting requirements are encouraged to call the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division at 1-800-424-9530 (at the prompt, press 5).

April 19, 2010 Register Now for the Last FEC Conferences of the Year. Time is going by quickly, and there are only two FEC conferences left this year: May 3-4 for Campaigns and Party Committees and June 8-9 for Trade/Membership/Labor Organizations and their PACs. Be sure to register soon so that you don't miss out on FEC training opportunities!
April 12, 2010 April Reporting Reminder. Quarterly filers are reminded that they have a report due Thursday, April 15, covering from the closing date of their last reports filed through March 31. (Special note: If you filed semi-annually in 2009, you are considered a quarterly filer in 2010.) Also, monthly filers are reminded that they have a report due Tuesday, April 20, covering the month of March.
April 5, 2010 New Draft Policy on Volunteer Materials Available for Your Comment. The Federal Election Commission seeks public comment on alternative drafts of a Volunteer Materials Exemption Policy. Commenters are encouraged to review the drafts and submit comments to  Comments on the drafts are due by 5:00 pm on April 13, 2010.
March 29, 2010 Have You Tried the New Compliance Map? The Commission has introduced a new Compliance Map on its website, which sets out key dates and timeframes for disclosure of campaign finances in each state. The map provides schedules for pre- and post-election reporting, independent expenditures, coordination, federal election activity (FEA) and electioneering communications. It also provides election dates, as well as contact information for key state offices, including those offering information on ballot access and state campaign finance questions.
March 8, 2010 FEC Training Programs in March and April. The Commission will offer several conferences and workshops this Spring to assist committees in understanding federal campaign finance law, including a seminar for nonconnected PACs on April 7 and our rescheduled regional conference in New Orleans, March 23-24. For a complete overview of our educational outreach programs, visit Also, to ensure you don't miss out on any opportunity, sign up for our e-mail list to be notified when registration begins for any FEC educational program.
March 1, 2010 FEC Publishes Adjusted Limits and Thresholds. On February 24, the Commission published its Price Index Adjustments for Expenditure Limitations and Lobbyist Bundling Disclosure Threshold in the Federal Register.  This annual notice informs the public of any adjustments in expenditure limitations as well as the lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold. For 2010, the lobbyist bundling disclosure threshold has not increased and will remain at $16,000 for 2010. The coordinated party expenditure limit for the general election for House races will be $43,500 ($87,000 in those states with only one Congressional district). The coordinated party limits for the general election for Senate races vary by State; see the link above for a table of those limits.
February 22, 2010 Upcoming Rulemaking Hearings at the FEC. The FEC will be holding several public hearings early next month as it continues to consider new regulations to implement several recent court decisions. On March 2-3, the Commission will hold a hearing on its proposed rules concerning coordinated communications, and on March 16 (rescheduled from March 10), the Commission will hold a hearing on proposed regulations relating to participation by federal officeholders and candidates in nonfederal fundraising.
February 16, 2010 February Filing Reminder. Monthly filers are reminded that they have a report due Saturday, February 20, covering the month of January. Please note that the Commission does not have statutory authority to extend filing deadlines even if they occur on a weekend, so plan accordingly. Also, candidates participating in the Massachusetts Senate Special General Election (and quarterly-filing PACs and party committees making contributions or expenditures in connection with this election) must file a post-general report on Thursday, February 18, covering activity from January 1 through February 8.
February 10, 2010 FEC Closed. The FEC is closed due to extreme weather in Washington, DC. Beyond the links provided on the tips for treasurers page, please visit for useful links to publications reporting schedules, forms and other resources for committee treasurers.
February 1, 2010 FEC Training in February and March. The Commission will offer several conferences and workshops this month and next to assist committees in understanding federal campaign finance law, including conferences in Washington, DC, for corporations and in New Orleans for candidates, party committees and corporate/labor/trade PACs. A roundtable workshop will be held later this month in Washington, DC, on the new travel rules. For a complete overview of our educational outreach programs, visit Also, to ensure you don't miss out on any opportunity, sign up for our e-mail list to be notified when registration begins for any FEC educational program.
January 25, 2010 Year-End Reporting Reminder for all Committees. Year-End reports covering activity through December 31 are due Sunday, January 31. The Commission does not have statutory authority to extend filing deadlines, even when they occur on weekends, so paper filers should plan to mail their reports early. Electronic filers have until midnight (EST) Sunday to submit their reports.
January 19, 2010 Pre-Election Reports Due on 1/21. Committees involved in the primary elections in Illinois and the special election in Florida's 19th district will file pre-election reports on Thursday, January 21.
January 11, 2010 FEC Guide to Enforcement Procedures Available. A new compliance manual that summarizes the Commission's general enforcement procedures and policies is now available. The Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents on the FEC Enforcement Process provides a step-by-step guide and is an invaluable resource for any committee going through the Commission's enforcement process.
January 4, 2010 Final Rules on Campaign Travel Effective This Week. On January 6, final rules on campaign travel by aircraft recently published in the Federal Register will become effective. Learn more about these new rules by attending the Commission's February 24th roundtable workshop or one of our upcoming conferences.

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