In addition to receiving contributions and other funds (see Chapter 2), party committees may receive goods and services without any contribution resulting. In many cases, no reporting is required.
A party committee may receive, without limit, free legal and accounting services as long as:
· The services do not directly further the election of a specific federal candidate;
· The person paying for the service is the regular employer of the individual performing the service;
· The employer does not hire additional employees to free regular employees to perform the service; and
· The committee reports the value of the service (the amount paid by the employer), as well as the name of each person who performed the service and the date the service was provided. 100.85, 104.3(h) and 114.1(a)(2)(vi).
If an individual personally volunteers legal or accounting services without compensation, the above restrictions do not apply. See "Personal Services," below.
An individual may volunteer uncompensated personal services to a party committee without making a contribution. 100.74. Volunteer activity is not reportable.
Note, however, that if volunteers are, in fact, paid for their services by someone other than the party committee, the activity is no longer considered volunteering, and the payments result in in-kind contributions to the party committee. 100.54. Generally, if an individual provides services to a party committee during paid working hours, the employer makes a contribution to the committee. However, legal and accounting services, if they meet the conditions described in the above section, are an exception to this rule. For further exceptions, see 100.54(a)-(c).
Volunteer's Living Expenses
While volunteering, an individual may pay for normal subsistence expenses (meals and lodging) without making a contribution. These payments are not reportable. 100.79(b).
Activities in Home, Church, Community Room
Individuals, in the course of volunteering personal services, may use their homes--or the recreation room of the apartment complex where they live--for activities to support a party committee without making a contribution. Or volunteers may use a church or community room for party-support activities as long as the facility is regularly used for noncommercial purposes by members of the community, without regard to political affiliation. (A nominal fee paid by the individual for the use of a recreation or community room is not a contribution and is not reportable.) 100.75 and 100.76.
For more information on political activity by religious organizations, contact the IRS tax exempt organizations division. See Appendix F.
Individuals may volunteer to hold fundraising receptions or other types of party-support activities in their homes or in churches or community rooms. An individual may purchase food, beverages and invitations for the event without making a contribution as long as such spending does not exceed $2,000 per calendar year on behalf of all political committees of the same party. (A husband and wife may together spend up to $4,000 per year.) Any amount spent in excess of $2,000 per person, however, must be reported by the party committee as an in-kind contribution. (Otherwise, the activity is not reportable.) 100.77
Note that any expenses paid by a nonresident co-host of an activity are considered in-kind contributions to the party committee benefiting from the event. Advisory Opinion (AO) 1980-63.
An employee, stockholder or member of a corporation or labor organization may make occasional, isolated or incidental use of the organization's facilities for volunteer work on behalf of a party committee (or candidate), subject to the rules and practices of the organization. However, the volunteer may have to reimburse the corporation or labor organization. 114.9(a)(1) and (b)(1). The rules for this type of volunteer activity are discussed under "Use of Facilities by Employees, Stockholders and Members."
Unreimbursed Travel Expenses
The rules described below apply only to an individual’s payments for his or her own travel expenses; if an individual uses personal funds to pay the travel expenses of another, an in-kind contribution results.
$2,000 Transportation Exemption
An individual working for a party committee (including a paid staff member or a volunteer) may voluntarily spend up to $2,000 for unreimbursed transportation expenses on behalf of all political committees of the same party without making a contribution. Payments for transportation expenses that exceed $2,000 per year, however, are considered contributions—unless they are reimbursed by the party committee in a timely manner (see below). 100.79.
Volunteer’s Exemption for
Meals and Lodging
A committee volunteer may spend unlimited amounts for his or her own meals and lodging without making a contribution, as long as the expenses are incidental to volunteer activity. 100.79.
Reimbursed Travel Expenses
When an individual working on behalf of the party committee pays transportation and subsistence expenses while traveling, no contribution will result if the committee reimburses the individual within the following time limits:
• If the expense was paid with cash or a personal check, within 30 days from the date the expense was incurred.
• If the expense was paid with a credit card, within 60 days of the closing date on the credit card billing statement where the charge first appears.
Outside of these time limits, the payments are in-kind contributions. 116.5(b). See “Reporting Reimbursed Staff Advances” for reporting rules.
A vendor of food or beverages (even if incorporated) may sell food and beverages to a party committee at a discount. The amount charged must at least equal the vendor's cost for the items. If the value of the discount--the difference between the normal charge and the amount paid by the committee--does not exceed $2,000 per calendar year on behalf of all the committees of one political party, the discount is not considered a contribution. Discounts exceeding $2,000, however, must be reported as in-kind contributions by the party committee. A corporate vendor may not exceed the discount limit since corporate contributions are prohibited. 100.78 and 114.1(a)(2)(v).
As previously explained, corporations and labor organizations are prohibited from using their treasury funds to make contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections. However, subject to the restrictions described in this section, corporations and labor organizations are permitted to:
· Make election-related communications to their restricted class and the general public;
· Conduct voter drives aimed at their restricted class and the general public; and
· Allow candidates and party representatives to make campaign appearances at meetings or other functions of the organization.
For more information on corporate and labor organization activity in connection with federal elections, see the Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations.
Restricted Class Communications vs. Public Communications
When communicating with its restricted class, a corporation or labor organization may expressly advocate the election or defeat of clearly identified candidates and promote support for a particular political party. 114.1(a)(2)(i) and 114.3(c). The restricted class is generally composed of the organization's executive and administrative personnel, noncorporate members, stockholders and the families of each group. 114.1(j).
A corporation or labor organization may also make election-related communications to the general public. However, these communications may not contain express advocacy, be electioneering communications or be coordinated with the candidate, and they are subject to further restrictions. FEC regulations list several types of permissible communications along with their restrictions. 114.4.
Registration and GOTV Activity
Subject to certain restrictions, a corporation or labor organization may conduct voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives. Voter drives directed to the restricted class are subject to fewer restrictions than those directed to the general public, as explained below.
Registration and GOTV Drives for Restricted Class
A corporation or labor organization may conduct voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives urging its restricted class to register with a particular party or to vote for particular candidates. Such a drive may include not only communications to the restricted class, but also transportation to the polls and other assistance. However, voter information and assistance may not be withheld on the basis of political preference. 114.3(c)(4).
Registration and GOTV Communications/Voting Information for General Public
A corporation or labor organization may support or conduct voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives aimed at the general public, but any communications that are part of the drive may not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate (or candidates of a clearly identified party), and the drive may not be coordinated with any candidate or party. For further restrictions, consult 114.4(d).
A corporation or labor organization may pay for billboards, posters, television and radio ads and similar communications urging the general public to register or to vote provided the communications do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate (or candidates of a particular party). The preparation and distribution of registration and get-out-the-vote communications may not be coordinated with any candidate or party. Any such coordination will convert the activity into a prohibited in-kind contribution. 114.4(c)(2).
Voter Information Prepared by Election Officials
A corporation or labor organization may distribute (or reprint and distribute) to the general public officially prepared registration and voting information, such as instructional materials, registration-by-mail forms and absentee ballots. (The organization may also donate funds to state or local government agencies to help defray printing and distribution costs.) When distributing the material, the organization may not expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate or candidates of a clearly identified party or encourage registration with any particular party. Any coordination with a candidate or party will convert the activity into a prohibited in-kind contribution. 114.4(c)(3).
Appearances by Party Representatives and Candidates
Representatives of a political party, and candidates and their representatives, may promote their party or candidacy at a meeting, convention or other event sponsored by a corporation or labor organization. Different rules govern this activity depending on whether the audience includes the restricted class only or whether it includes all of the organization's employees.
Appearance Before Restricted Class
In this type of appearance, the audience is limited to the organization's restricted class and to employees necessary to administer the event, guests being honored or participating in the event and members of the news media. The corporation or labor organization may express support for the party or candidate and suggest that audience members make contributions to the candidate or party. However, only the party or candidate representative may collect contributions. 114.3(c)(2).
Appearances Before Restricted Class and Employees
In this second type of appearance, the audience may be expanded to include all of the organization's employees and their families as well as guests being honored or participating in the event and members of the news media. The party or candidate representative may solicit contributions or ask that contributions be designated for the candidate or party through the organization's separate segregated fund. The speaker may also leave campaign materials or return envelopes for members of the audience. However, no contributions may be collected at the event.
Further restrictions apply to the sponsoring corporation or labor organization. The organization--and its officials, employees, members and separate segregated fund--may not solicit contributions or expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate in conjunction with the event; nor may they encourage audience members to do so.
The organization must, if requested, provide the same opportunity to appear before the restricted class to representatives of other political parties or, in the case of a candidate speaker, to other candidates running for the same seat. No candidate or party representative may be favored with more time or a better location than other candidates or parties unless the organization can prove that it would be impracticable to provide similar times or locations. 114.4(b).
When making use of the facilities and resources of a corporation or labor organization, party committees--and individuals acting on their behalf--must be sure to make required reimbursements and advance payments according to the guidelines below. Otherwise, the activity results in a prohibited in-kind contribution from the corporation or labor union to the party committee.
Note also that when someone pays for a party committee's use of corporate/labor facilities, the payment is considered a reportable in-kind contribution to the party committee.
Use of Facilities by Employees, Stockholders and Members as Volunteers
When an employee, stockholder or member of a corporation or labor organization uses the organization's facilities for volunteer work in connection with federal elections--for example, by using an office phone for political work--the volunteer may need to reimburse the organization for the use of the facilities.
No Reimbursement Required
If the volunteer activity is limited to "incidental use" of the facilities--one hour a week or four hours a month--the volunteer does not have to reimburse the organization other than for increased overhead or operating costs (e.g., long-distance telephone charges). 114.9(a)(1) and (b)(1). (Exception: see "Use of Facilities to Reproduce Materials," below).
When use of the facilities exceeds "incidental use," the volunteer must reimburse the organization the usual and normal charge within a commercially reasonable time. 114.9(a)(2) and (b)(2).
Use of Facilities by Others
If a person other than an employee, stockholder or member uses the facilities of a corporation or labor organization in connection with federal elections, the user must reimburse the organization within a commercially reasonable time and at the usual and normal charge. Facilities used for these purposes might include office space, telephones, computers and furniture. 114.9(d).
Meeting rooms are treated the same as other facilities (e.g., reimbursement at the usual and normal charge within a commercially reasonable time) unless the corporation or labor organization customarily makes its meeting rooms available to clubs, civic organizations or other groups. In that case, the organization may make the rooms available to political committees on the same terms given to other groups (including free use of the facilities). The rooms must also be made available to any other candidates or political committees, upon request, on the same terms. 114.13.
Use of Facilities to Reproduce Materials
If anyone--including an employee, stockholder or member--uses the facilities of a corporation or labor organization to produce materials in connection with federal elections, the individual must reimburse the organization within a commercially reasonable time at the usual and normal charge for producing such materials. 114.9(c).
Use of Personnel, Food Services and Certain Mailing Lists
A corporation or labor organization is prohibited from conducting fundraising activity in connection with federal elections (other than for the organization's own separate segregated fund). It may, however, allow its personnel, food services and certain mailing lists to be used for fundraising purposes if it receives payment in advance at the fair market value of the goods or services. 114.2(f)(1) and (2). Specifically, advance payment is required for:
The use of corporate or labor personnel directed to carry out fundraising activities as part of their job (though employees may not be coerced into providing on-the-job fundraising services if they do not wish to perform them);
The use of catering or other food services provided by a corporation or labor organization; and
The use of an organization's list of clients, customers, vendors or other persons outside the restricted class for purposes of soliciting contributions or distributing invitations. 114.2(f)(2)(i)(A), (C) and (E).
However, if a corporation is providing the services (such as catering or personnel services) in its ordinary course of business as a commercial vendor, payment does not have to be made in advance as long as: (1) the payment is at the usual and normal charge; and (2) the payment schedule conforms to normal business practice. Otherwise a prohibited contribution results. 100.52(d)(1) and (2); 114.2(f)(1); 116.3; see also, for example, AOs 1994-33 and 1991-18.
 There is a limited exception to this general rule. Certain nonprofit corporations may finance independent expenditures and electioneering communications if the corporation meets the criteria in FEC rules. 114.10. For more information, see the Campaign Guide for Corporations and Labor Organizations.
 As an exception, a corporation or labor organization may publicize its endorsement of a candidate through a press release and press conference as long as the disbursements are minimal. 114.4(c)(6).
 The types of communications are: voting records, voter guides and the registration and voting communications that are listed below. A corporation or labor organization may also donate funds for candidate debates sponsored by nonprofit corporations qualified to stage debates. 114.4(f)(3); see also 110.13.
 With respect to media access, candidates for the same office (and representatives of separate parties) must be treated similarly. If the organization allows news coverage for one candidate or party, it must allow media coverage for appearances by other candidates for the same office (or by other parties). The organization must also provide equal access to all representatives of the news media. 114.3(c)(2)(iv) and 114.4(b)(1)(viii).