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FEC Record: Advisory Opinions

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AO 2012-30 Company May Process Larger Text Contributions and Share Short Codes

A telecommunications company may use text messaging technology to process campaign contributions in excess of $50 per billing cycle and $200 per calendar year or election cycle. It may also share premium common short codes among various federal campaigns and committees when processing such texted transactions.  

Background

Revolution Messaging, LLC is a Washington, DC-based full-service digital technology and strategy company that specializes in providing mobile communications strategies, content and text messaging services to progressive organizations.

The global communications provider asked whether it may process contributions by text message totaling more than $50 per month or $200 per calendar year or election cycle.

Donations of this size trigger certain recordkeeping and disclosure requirements under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations. Revolution Messaging proposes to collect contributor information and provide it to the recipient political committees to enable treasurers to comply with those requirements.

The company also would like political committees to be able to share the common short codes used to designate the recipient of a text contribution. The company plans to assign unique keywords to each committee to identify the intended recipient.

Analysis

Under the Act and Commission regulations, committees are solely responsible for determining the eligibility of contributors and satisfying other legal requirements.

A treasurer of a political committee must "keep an account of (1) all contributions received by or on behalf of such political committee; (2) the name and address of any person who makes any contribution in excess of $50, together with the date and amount of such contribution by any person; [and] (3) the identification of any person who makes a contribution or contributions aggregating more than $200 during a calendar year, together with the date and amount of any such contribution." 2 U.S.C. §432(c)(l)-(3); see also 11 CFR 110.4(c). Committees must itemize on their FEC reports individual contributions that exceed $200 in a calendar year (or election cycle, for authorized committees). 11 CFR 104.8(b).

The Commission determined that Revolution Messaging’s plan to obtain the necessary contributor information and to block further contributions from those who fail to provide it would enable committees to fulfill their recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

The Commission also found that the use of shared common short codes with unique keywords to identify recipients would ensure that committees receive their contributions and prevent inadvertent transmittal of corporate funds to a committee.

Date Issued: September 4, 2012; Length: 8 pages.

(Posted 9/13/12; By: Alex Knott)

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The FEC Record is produced by the Information Division, Office of Communications. Toll free 800-424-9530; Local 202-694-1100; E-mail info@fec.gov. Greg Scott, Director; Alex Knott, Senior Writer/Editor; Myles Martin, Editor