Category Archives: FEC

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The Federal Election Commission Announces New Contribution Limits for 2017-2018 Cycle

Since the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was passed in 2002, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) indexes contribution limits based on inflation every two years. For the first time, the FEC did not increase the individual (and non-multicandidate PAC) limit to candidates because inflation was running so low. Individuals are still allowed to give $2,700 per … Continue Reading

The FEC Levels Fines on Nonprofits over Donor Disclosure

The question of when a politically-active, nonprofit 501(c)(4) group must publicly disclose its donors has been on the front burner in various states—most, like New York and California, have called for greater regulation, while others like Arizona have loosened the reins. At the federal level, silence has been the norm because the statute is generally read … Continue Reading

Setting Up and Operating a Super PAC

Interested in what it takes to set up a federal Super PAC? Take a look at Venable’s recently released white paper summarizing the key rules of the road, including: Steps for creating a federal Super PAC Avoiding illegal coordination with candidates FEC and IRS reporting obligations Advertising disclaimers For those interested in Maryland elections, please … Continue Reading

The Big No: Reimbursing Contributions

Over the last few years, the courts have loosened campaign finance laws and the agency charged with enforcing them is frequently gridlocked. However, one campaign finance violation that can still get you in big trouble is reimbursing contributions, particularly when the reimbursing is done by a corporation. In settling a recent enforcement matter involving the … Continue Reading

Please Join Us: WEBINAR – Ramping up for the 2016 Cycle: Make Compliance a Priority for Lobbying and Political Activity

Thursday, March 26, 2015 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET – Webinar The Justice Department recently announced its first criminal prosecution for coordination. States like Virginia are revamping their ethics laws and California recently imposed new restrictions on lobbyists. Although the IRS has yet to issue regulations for 501(c)(4)s, many states have created new disclosure … Continue Reading

Back to the Future: FEC issues regulations for Citizens United

In January 2010 –  as almost everyone already knows by now – the Supreme Court struck down major portions of campaign finance laws, allowing corporations to make independent expenditures in support of, or opposition to, candidates for federal office. Super PACs that could accept unlimited individual and corporate contributions soon followed based on lower court … Continue Reading

More to Give: FEC Raises Contribution Limits

As it has done every two years since the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act indexed contribution limits for inflation, the FEC has announced revised contribution limits for the 2016 election cycle. In addition to the traditional limits for candidates, PACs, and parties, the FEC also set the indexed limit for the new special accounts created at … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Strikes Down Cap on Total Individual Contributions, Aftershocks Likely to Have Bigger Impact than Ruling Itself

The Supreme Court yesterday struck down the limit on the total amount an individual may contribute to federal candidates, PACs and political parties in a two-year election cycle. The 5-4 ruling is unlikely to have a major impact on political giving this year, but casts serious doubt on the constitutionality of similar state contribution schemes … Continue Reading

The FEC Increases the Lobbyist Bundling Threshold and Coordinated Party Expenditure Limits

Last week the Federal Election Commission increased the reporting threshold for contributions bundled by lobbyists to $17,300 (up from $17,100). Candidates, leadership PACs, and federal party committee must file lobbyist bundling reports if during a six-month reporting period they receive two or more bundled contributions exceeding the $17,300 threshold. We have written here about the reporting … Continue Reading

Donor Disclosure: Will FEC’s Dismissal of Complaint Usher in More Secrecy in 2014?

With donors now allowed to give unlimited sums to Super PACs and other political advocacy groups, the biggest issue in campaign finance regulation is what such groups must disclose about their fundraising and spending, and when.  Some states have moved aggressively to bolster their disclosure rules, with a couple of states filing suit to force … Continue Reading

Oral Arguments at the D.C. Circuit Signal Delay in Decision on Federal Ban on Government Contractor Contributions

On May 16, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit held oral arguments in the case challenging the long-standing ban on federal government contractor political contributions, Wagner v. Federal Election Commission.  Last fall, a lower federal court upheld the ban, in section 441c of the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”), finding that … Continue Reading

Think Your Advocacy Group is Not Subject to FEC Rules? Think Again.

A federal court last week ruled that a small nonprofit, formed under Wyoming law to advocate positions on various political issues, may have to include certain federally-mandated disclosures on its ads and fundraising appeals, and may even have to register and report as a federal political committee. The ruling is an important reminder that advocacy … Continue Reading

The Ban on Corporate Contributions Survives for Now

The Supreme Court announced today that it will not hear a case challenging the longstanding federal ban on corporate contributions. The case involved promises by a CEO that his corporation would reimburse employees for contributing to Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign. The trial court held that the ban on corporate contributions was unconstitutional in the … Continue Reading

McCutcheon and State Contribution Limits: Collateral Targets

While the landmark Citizens United case concerned only the federal ban on the financing of election ads by corporations, the Supreme Court’s ruling implicitly struck down a host of similar state laws. That’s because the Court decided that a ban on political expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates or parties violates the U.S. Constitution. … Continue Reading

Contribution Limits in Limbo?

The Federal Election Commission not only limits how much an individual can give to a particular candidate, PAC, or party committee, it also limits the aggregate amount an individual can give to all federal political committees during a two-year period (the aggregate biennial limit). Earlier this week, the Supreme Court accepted a case challenging the biennial limits. … Continue Reading

Candidates and Super PACs: A Complicated Relationship

In the wake of the 2012 elections, questions linger about what kinds of relationships are permissible between a candidate and an independent-expenditure only group (i.e., a Super PAC). In planning their activities, Super PACs may consider using a photo of the candidate from a campaign ad or website, or even approaching candidates and current officeholders … Continue Reading

The FEC Increases the Lobbyist Bundling Threshold

Last week the FEC increased the reporting threshold for contributions bundled by lobbyists to $17,100 (up from $16,700). These bundling reports are required of authorized federal candidate committees, leadership PACs, and political party committees if the “reporting committee” receives two or more bundled contributions that exceed the $17,100 threshold. A bundled contribution is any contribution … Continue Reading

Venable Hosts Webinar on Political Law Basics – February 27

We hope you will join us for a webinar on February 27 at 1:00, called Political Law 101. We will cover all the major topics you need to be thinking about as you ramp up for lobbying the new Congress and state legislatures, host site visits and other events, and prepare for the next election … Continue Reading

The FEC Increases Individual Contribution Limits

This week the Federal Election Commission (FEC) announced long-awaited increases to some individual contribution limits for 2013-14. Here’s what has changed—an individual may now give $2,600 per election (up from $2,500) to a candidate for federal office and $32,400 (up from $30,800) per year to a national party committee. Contribution limits to Federal PACs (including … Continue Reading

Government Contractors Face Growing Risks from Laws Regulating Political Contributions

The landmark Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case paved the way for explosive growth in political spending during the 2012 election cycle.  However, for government contractors and their principals, a growing number of “pay-to-play” laws restrict political contributions and fundraising, and can result in severe penalties, including the loss of contracts. Venable has … Continue Reading

Federal Ban on Government Contractor Political Contributions Upheld

On November 2, 2012, the District Court for the District of Columbia, two days after oral argument, upheld the long-standing ban on political contributions from federal government contractors. In Wagner v. Federal Election Commission, three independent contractors with various federal agencies argued that the ban on federal contractor contributions in section 441c of the Federal Election … Continue Reading

Election-Cycle Limits In Doubt As Case Heads For Supreme Court

A case headed to the Supreme Court could upend longstanding rules limiting federal political contributions. The Republican National Committee and an individual plaintiff filed an appeal yesterday after a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected their challenge to limits on the total amount an individual may contribute over a two-year … Continue Reading
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