News Releases, Media Advisories

For Immediate Release:                                                                                             Contact:  Ron Harris
December 17, 1998                                                                                                                       Sharon Snyder
                                                                                                                                                        Ian Stirton
                                                                                                                                                        Kelly Huff

 

 

FEC REQUESTING COMMENTS ON REVISED ‘MEMBER’ RULEMAKING

WASHINGTON -- The Federal Election Commission is seeking comments from the public on additional proposed revisions to its rules governing who qualifies as a "member" of a membership organization.

Although the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 prohibits direct corporate contributions in connection with federal election campaigns, it permits corporations, including incorporated membership organizations, to solicit contributions from their restricted class to a separate segregated fund (commonly known as a PAC), and to make unlimited communications containing express electoral advocacy to its restricted class. The restricted class consists of the organization’s members, its executive and administrative personnel, and their families.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a 1995 case entitled Chamber of Commerce of the United States v. Federal Election Commission, ruled the FECA regulations were unduly restrictive in defining who is a "member" of a membership organization.

The initial Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register on December 22, 1997. The additional proposed revisions to the "member" rule were published December 16, 1998 in the Federal Register.

The newest proposed revisions focus primarily on the attributes of membership associations, although qualifications of members are also addressed. The rules would require, for example, that membership organizations be composed entirely of members, and that the authority to direct and control the organization be vested in some or all of its members. The proposal would also require that members pay annual dues in an amount set by the organization, or renew their membership in writing on an annual basis.

 

 

This NPRM also proposes that a "membership organization" include unincorporated associations such as partnerships for purposes of the "internal communications" rule. This would cover those entities that are not trade associations, cooperatives, corporations without capital stock, or labor organizations, that nevertheless qualified as membership organizations for purposes of these rules.

Comments on the proposal should be addressed to Ms. Susan E. Propper, Assistant General Counsel, and must be submitted in either written or electronic form. Faxed comments should be sent to (202) 219-3923, with printed copy follow-up. Electronic mail comments should be sent to members@fec.gov, and should include full name and postal service address of the commenter within the text of the message. Electronic comments that do not contain full name, electronic mail address, and postal service address of the commenter will not be considered.

Comments must be received no later than February 1, 1999.

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