What Federal Election Activity Is
Federal election activity (FEA) is a specifically defined term of art that triggers certain payment and reporting requirements. FEA is defined as:
1. Voter registration activity during the period 120 days before a regularly scheduled primary or general election including the election day itself;
2. Voter identification, get-out-the-vote and generic campaign activity conducted in connection with an election in which a federal candidate appears on the ballot;
3. A public communication that refers to a clearly identified candidate for federal office and that promotes, attacks, supports or opposes any candidate for federal office. The communication does not need to expressly advocate the election or defeat of the federal candidate to qualify as FEA; and
4. Services provided during a month by an employee of a state or local party committee who spends more than 25 percent of their compensated time during that month on activities in connection with a federal election, including FEA.
What Federal Election Activity is Not
FEA does not include any amount expended by a state or local party committee for:
A public communication that refers solely to clearly identified candidates for nonfederal office and does not promote, attack, support or oppose a federal candidate. However, the communication may be FEA if it otherwise qualifies (e.g. as get-out-the-vote activity);
A contribution to a candidate for state or local office, provided that it is not designated to pay for the FEA described above;
Costs of a state or local political convention, meeting or conference; and
Costs of grassroots campaign materials (such as buttons, bumper stickers, yard signs, handbills, brochures and posters) that name or depict only candidates for state and local office.
The third and fourth types of FEA above must be paid for solely with federal funds. The first and second types may generally be allocated between federal and Levin funds according to fixed percentages described in Chapter 14. However, Levin funds may not be used to pay for any part of FEA if the activity refers to a clearly identified candidate or if any part of the funds will be used to pay for a television or radio communication (unless the communication refers solely to a clearly identified state or local candidate).
Note that if a state or local partys disbursements for allocable FEA amount to less than $5,000, the payments may come exclusively from federal funds or Levin funds, or they may be allocated between both. 300.32(c)(4).
Unregistered party organizations should note that unless the payments otherwise qualify as expenditures, payments of federal funds or Levin funds for FEA by a state, district or local party committee do not constitute expenditures for the purpose of determining registration requirements. 300.36(a)(2).
As noted in Chapter 1, Levin funds are a new category of funds that can be used for certain types of FEA. State, district and local party committees may raise Levin funds in limited amounts and use them to pay for certain federal election activities. 300.2(i), 300.30 and 300.34.
Levin funds may be kept in an account with other nonfederal funds or may be placed in an account exclusively for Levin funds. 300.30(c)(2) and (3). For more on committee bank accounts and Levin funds, see here.
Raising Levin Funds
A party committee may not solicit or accept Levin funds which aggregate to more than $10,000 per source in a calendar year. If the laws of the state in which the committee is organized limit donations to that committee to less than $10,000, that lower limit would apply. 300.31(d)(1)-(2).
Levin fund donations are not subject to the normal aggregation requirements based on affiliation between committees. While contributions to state and local committees aggregate toward the same limit, donations of Levin funds do not. 300.31(d)(3).
Similarly, while state and local parties can typically transfer among themselves without limit, Levin funds cannot be transferred. Any Levin funds expended or disbursed by a committee must have been raised solely by that committee. Moreover, when making allocated payments for FEA, a committee must be able to show that the federal and Levin funds it uses to make a disbursement for FEA do not include federal funds transferred to it by any other party committee. 300.31(a).
Additionally, Levin funds may not be solicited or accepted via a joint fundraiser with any other party committee. 300.31(f).
Expenditures to raise federal funds which are to be used for FEA must be made with federal funds only. However, expenditures to raise Levin funds which are to be used for FEA must be made with either federal or Levin funds, or an allocated ratio of the two. 300.32(a) and (c).
These expenses include the cost of solicitation, administration and planning for the event. 300.32(a).
Party committees may not accept donations to their Levin accounts which were solicited, received, transferred or spent in the name of:
A national committee of a political party, including their national congressional campaign committee;
A federal candidate or officeholder; or
A foreign national. 300.31(c) and (e).
Corporate and union donations and donations from federal government contractors are permissible, as long as state law does not prohibit them.
Spending Levin Funds
In addition to the FEA expenses identified above, state, district and local party committees may use Levin funds to pay for any activity which is lawful in the state where the party committee is organized. 300.32(b)
Bear in mind, however, that state and local party committees may not spend Levin funds on:
Any broadcast, cable or satellite communication unless it refers solely to a clearly identified candidate for state or local office;
Services provided by an employee of a state or local party committee who devotes over 25 percent of his or her compensated time to activity in connection with federal elections; and
FEA which refers to a clearly identified federal candidate. 300.32(c).
Party committees must report their federal election activity. Reporting requirements are explained in Chapter 14.
 During even numbered years, in connection with an election in which a federal candidate appears on the ballot means the period beginning on the filing deadline for primary election ballot access for federal candidates under state law or January 1st of the election year for states that do not hold primaries and ending on the day of the general election (or of the general election runoff if one is held). In odd numbered years, it means the period beginning on the day that the date is set for a special election and ending on the day of that election.