Highlights of Major Fundraising Rules for Federal Candidates (2021-22 Election Cycle Only)Saturday, February 6, 2021
Contribution limit from individuals is $2,900 per election (note that primary, runoff, and general elections are treated as separate elections for contribution limit purposes).
A husband and wife may contribute $5,800 per election.
Contribution limit from multicandidate PACs is $5,000 per election (note that primary, runoff, and general elections are treated as separate elections for contribution limit purposes).
Candidates may accept contributions for both the primary and the general elections prior to the primary, but contributions to the general election cannot be used until after the candidate formally becomes the party’s nominee (i.e., after the primary or nominating convention process has occurred). If the candidate does not become the party’s nominee, for whatever reason, then the candidate must return general election contributions to the contributors. The same rules also apply to potential runoff elections.
Corporations may not contribute to candidates; checks drawn on a corporate account cannot be accepted.
Partnerships, including limited liability partnerships (LLPs), may make contributions to influence federal elections (although additional guidance should be sought if the partnership has corporate members, foreign national members, or members with federal government contracts). The entity itself is subject to the $2,900 per election contribution limit, but the contribution must also be attributed among the entity’s partners (the portion attributed to each partner must not exceed the individual partner’s contribution limit). If all partners within the organization are contributing, the partnership may attribute the contribution according to each partner’s share of the entity’s profits. If the partnership attributes a contribution on another basis agreed to by the partners, or if it attributes contributions only to certain partners, the following rules must be observed:
- The profits and losses of only the contributing partners must be affected; and
- The profits of each contributing partner must be reduced (or his/her losses increased) by the amount of the contribution attributed to him or her.
In some cases, limited liability companies (LLCs) are treated as partnerships. For the purposes of contribution limitations and prohibitions, an LLC is treated as a partnership if it does not have publicly traded shares and has either chosen to file, under IRS rules, as a partnership or made no choice at all.
Foreign nationals may not contribute unless they have a “green card” indicating lawful admittance for permanent residence in the United States.
Government contractors may not contribute (their PACs may, as can employees of government contractors).
It is illegal to give money in the name of another (no bonus to employees for political contributions, no giving in the name of children, etc.).
It is a good policy to not accept contributions from minors. By law, however, any individual of any age may make a contribution if all of the following conditions are met:
- The decision to contribute is made knowingly and voluntarily by that individual;
- The funds, goods, or services contributed are owned or controlled exclusively by that individual, such as income earned by that individual, the proceeds of a trust for which that individual is the beneficiary, or a savings account opened and maintained exclusively in that individual’s name; and
- The contribution is not made from the proceeds of a gift, the purpose of which was to provide funds to be contributed, or is not in any other way controlled by another individual.
There are strict limits on cash contributions: the law permits $100 in cash from a known person and $50 in cash from an anonymous source.
Post-dated checks are not permitted.
All contributions must be either deposited to a campaign account within ten days of receipt or returned to the contributor.
VOLUNTEER EXEMPTIONS/CORPORATE RESOURCES
Volunteer’s use of corporate resources (phones, faxes, meeting facilities, food, etc.) is limited to one hour per week and four hours per month.
Any out-of-pocket costs incurred by individuals on behalf of a campaign must either be reimbursed by the campaign or treated as an in-kind contribution.
- The volunteer cannot use corporate or business credit cards for out-of-pocket costs.
Facilities (such as a phone bank) may be rented from a corporation for fair market value.
Neither candidates nor their fundraisers may use corporate letterhead or corporate staff for fundraising.
Contributions should be sent directly to the campaign headquarters or to a volunteer fundraiser’s home address. Contributions should not be sent to corporate or business or government office locations.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this document is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter. The material may not reflect the most current legal developments and the content and interpretation of the law addressed herein is subject to revision. The transmission and receipt of this document, in whole or in part, does not constitute or create a lawyer-client relationship between The Gober Group and any recipient. Do not act or refrain from acting upon this information without seeking professional legal counsel. We disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all the contents of this document to the fullest extent permitted by law. If you have questions about any of the information contained in the document, you should contact us so that we can review the facts associated with your particular situation.