Political parties generally support candidates for federal office and for state and local offices. The laws governing campaign financing in federal elections may differ from state and local laws. For example, the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) generally prohibits corporations and labor organizations from making contributions to influence federal elections, while many states permit corporate and labor donations to candidates.
Occasionally the federal and nonfederal laws overlap. This appendix explains when federal law takes precedence in those situations, and when it does not. For more detailed information, order the FEC brochure Federal and State Campaign Finance Laws, available for free from the FEC.
Where federal and state campaign finance laws overlap, the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations take precedence with respect to:
• Prohibitions on election-financing activities by foreign nationals. 110.20(b);
• Prohibitions on election-financing activities by national banks and federally chartered corporations. 114.2(a); and
• Laws that pertain to the financing of federal elections. 108.7(a).
Act prohibits foreign nationals from
making contributions or expenditures in connection with any
National Banks and Federally Chartered Corporations
The Act also prohibits national banks and corporations organized by authority of any law of Congress (for example, federal savings banks) from making contributions or expenditures in connection with any election—federal, state or local. 114.2(a). They may, however, set up separate segregated funds (also called PACs) for this purpose. 114.2(a)(1) and (2); AO 1987-14.
(Consult state laws as to the permissibility of election-related activity conducted by state-chartered banks.)
Federal Campaign Financing
With respect to the financing of federal elections, federal law specifically supersedes nonfederal law in the following areas:
• The organization and registration of political committees supporting federal candidates;
• The disclosure of receipts and expenditures by federal candidates and political committees; and
• The limits on contributions and expenditures regarding federal candidates and political committees. 108.7(a) and (b).
The Act and FEC regulations do not supersede nonfederal laws governing the following areas:
• Methods of qualifying candidates and political party organizations for the ballot;
• Dates and places of elections;
• Voter registration;
• Prohibitions on false registration, voting fraud, theft of ballots and similar offenses; and
• Candidates’ disclosure of their personal finances. 108.7(c).
Levin funds are donations from sources ordinarily prohibited by federal law but permitted by State law. All donations of Levin funds must be lawful under the laws of the State in which the committee is organized. 300.31(b).
A state, district or local committee may not solicit or accept Levin funds which aggregate to more than $10,000 per source in a calendar year. If the State in which the committee is organized limits donations to that committee to less than $10,000, then the State limit has priority. However, if the State permits higher amounts, the $10,000 limit still applies. 300.31(d)(1)-(2). Similarly, federal law does not prohibit corporate or union donations of Levin funds, but if state law does, then that ban would apply.
 The National Voter Registration Act, a federal law adopted in 1993 and known as the “Motor-Voter” Act, requires states to implement specific voter registration procedures, including registration of individuals applying for driver’s licenses, registration by mail, and registration at certain government agencies.
 The Ethics Reform Act of 1989 requires personal financial disclosure reports from federal candidates.