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AO 2012-03 Nonconnected PAC May Collect and Forward Earmarked Contributions to Independent Expenditure-Only Committees or the “Non-Contribution Accounts” of Other PACs
ActRight, a nonconnected PAC, may solicit and forward unlimited contributions earmarked for nonconnected committees that make only independent expenditures or for nonconnected committees’ “non-contribution accounts” used to finance independent expenditures (collectively “Recipient Committees”).
ActRight is a nonconnected political action committee that is registered with the Commission. ActRight solicits contributions via its website that are earmarked for federal candidates and forwards those contributions to the designated federal candidates’ authorized committees. ActRight intends to solicit, through the same website, unlimited contributions earmarked for the Recipient Committees. Donors will select the Recipient Committees they wish to contribute to by choosing committees that are listed on ActRight’s website. Donors will then complete a website donation form that will include a request for all required contributor information.
ActRight will deposit the contributions earmarked for the Recipient Committees into a separate bank account than the account it uses to forward earmarked contributions for federal candidates. It will then forward the contributions, along with the required contributor information, to each Recipient Committee. ActRight will not exercise any direction or control over the earmarked funds.
Commission regulations require any person who receives contributions on behalf of an unauthorized committee (i.e. a non-candidate committee) to forward the contributions it receives, along with certain contributor information, to the unauthorized committee’s treasurer in a timely manner. For instance, any person who receives a contribution in excess of $50 on behalf of an unauthorized committee must forward the contribution, as well as the contributor’s name, address, and the date of receipt, to the committee’s treasurer within 10 days of receipt. If the contribution exceeds $200, the contributor’s employer and occupation must also be forwarded. 11 CFR 102.8(b)(2). Contributions of $50 or less must be forwarded within 30 days and need not include any contributor information. 102.8(b)(1).
ActRight would be receiving contributions that are earmarked for unauthorized committees, and, thus, it is required to forward the contributions it receives along with the required contributor information to the treasurers of the Recipient Committees within the timeframes stated above.
Because the contributions would not be used by ActRight, nor would ActRight maintain any direction or control over the earmarked funds, ActRight would not need to report the earmarked contributions as contributions to ActRight. However, since the earmarked contributions would be deposited into ActRight’s separate non-contribution account and then forwarded to the Recipient Committees, ActRight would be required to report them as “Other Federal Receipts” on Line 17 of Form 3X along with an explanation that they are earmarked by the contributors for unauthorized political committees. See Advisory Opinions 1981-57 and 1983-18 and Carey v. FEC (D.D.C. 2011).
Since ActRight plans to forward the unlimited funds to the Recipient Committees that are permitted to receive such contributions, the Commission concluded that its proposed activity is permissible. See, Carey v. FEC (D.D.C. 2011) and EMILY’s List v. FEC (D.C. Cir. 2009).
Date Issued: 3/1/2012; 4 pages
(Posted 3/9/12: By: Myles Martin)
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