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HOME / FAQ ON LOBBYIST BUNDLING

FAQ on Lobbyist Bundling

The Federal Election Commission has approved regulations to implement a new disclosure regime for lobbyist bundled contributions.  In approving the Explanation and Justification for its Final Rule on Reporting Contributions Bundled by Lobbyists/Registrants and the PACs of Lobbyists/Registrants, the Commission put into effect section 204 of the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007.  The provisions are described in the Frequently Asked Questions below.

  1. Who has to report under the new lobbyist bundling rules?
  2. What triggers the reporting requirement under the new lobbyist bundling rules?
  3. What is the reporting threshold for 2014?
  4. What is a bundled contribution?
  5. What does it mean to credit through “records, designations, or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised”?
  6. What information needs to be reported on Form 3L?
  7. When do reporting committees have to start filing Form 3L and keeping records?
  8. What kinds of records do reporting committees have to keep and for how long?
  9. Does anyone other than reporting committees have obligations under the new lobbyist bundling rules?
  10. How can I tell if my political committee is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist/registrant?
  11. What are the covered reporting periods?

1. Who has to report under the new lobbyist bundling rules?

Authorized committees of Federal candidates, leadership PACs, and political party committees are the “reporting committees.”  (11 CFR 104.22(a)(1)-(3))

2. What triggers the reporting requirement under the new lobbyist bundling rules?

Reporting committees must file bundling disclosure reports on FEC Form 3L if they receive two or more bundled contributions exceeding the “reporting threshold” during a specific time period.  (11 CFR 104.22(b)(1))

3. What is the reporting threshold for 2014?

The reporting threshold for 2014 is $17,300.  The Commission will index the reporting threshold annually for inflation.  (11 CFR 104.22(g))

4. What is a bundled contribution?

A bundled contribution is any contribution that is either (1) forwarded to a reporting committee by a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC, or (2) received by the reporting committee and credited to a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC through “records, designations, or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised.”  Bundled contributions do not include contributions made from the personal funds of the lobbyist/registrant who forwards or is credited with raising those contributions and the personal funds of that person’s spouse.  Likewise, contributions made from committee funds of a lobbyist/registrant PAC that forwards or is credited with raising those contributions are not bundled contributions.  (11 CFR 104.22(a)(6))

5. What does it mean to credit through “records, designations, or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised”?

Crediting through “records” means that the reporting committee or candidate attributes contributions to a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC through written evidence (such as writings, charts, computer files, tables, spreadsheets, databases, and other data or data compilations in any medium or format). 

Crediting through “designations or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised” means that the reporting committee has given benefits to a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC for having raised a certain amount of contributions.  Examples include titles, tracking identifiers, access to events or activities, and mementos (such as photographs with the candidate, or autographed copies of books authored by the candidate).  This list is not exhaustive, and “designations or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised” need not be in writing.  (11 CFR 104.22(a)(6)(ii)(A))

6.  What information needs to be reported on Form 3L?

Reporting committees must report the name and address of the lobbyist/registrants or lobbyist/registrant PACs that provided bundled contributions exceeding the reporting threshold, the employers of the lobbyist/registrants, and the aggregate amount of bundled contributions forwarded by, or credited to, each lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC during the covered period.  (11 CFR 104.22(b)(1))

7. When do reporting committees have to start filing Form 3L and keeping records?

Reporting committees have to keep track of bundled contributions that they receive starting March 19, 2009, thirty days after the lobbyist bundling rules were published in the Federal Register. (74 FR 7285, February 17, 2009) Under the law, however, reporting committees do not have to start filing Form 3L until three months after the lobbyist bundling rules were published.  

Thus, the first bundling disclosure reports do not need to be filed until three months after the rules were published in the Federal Register, but they will cover bundled contributions received before that date.  Monthly filers will file their first Form 3L in May 2009, if they receive two or more bundled contributions that aggregate more than $16,000 in April.  Quarterly filers will file their first Form 3L in July 2009, if they receive two or more bundled contributions that aggregate more than $16,000 from April 1 through June 30.  All reporting committees will file a semi-annual report in July 2009, if they receive two or more bundled contributions that aggregate more than $16,000 in the period that begins to run March 19 and ends on June 30. 

8. What kinds of records do reporting committees have to keep and for how long?

Reporting committees have to maintain records of any bundled contributions that aggregate more than the reporting threshold ($16,000 in 2010) in a covered period.  Reporting committees must keep sufficient documentation of the information contained in the reports to check their accuracy and completeness and must keep those records for three years after filing Form 3L.  Reporting committees do not have to create any new records.  (11 CFR 104.22(f))

9. Does anyone other than reporting committees have obligations under the new lobbyist bundling rules?

Yes.  Any political committee that is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist/registrant is known as a “lobbyist/registrant PAC.”  Lobbyist/registrant PACs have to identify themselves as such on their FEC Form 1 (Statement of Organization).  For political committee that have not yet filed their FEC Form 1, this requirement goes into effect March 19, 2009.  Lobbyist/registrant PACs that have already filed their FEC Form 1 must amend their FEC Form 1 by March 29, 2009.  (11 CFR 102.2(a)(2), 104.22(c))

10. How can I tell if my political committee is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist/registrant?

A political committee is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist/registrant if it must be disclosed by a lobbyist/registrant to the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House of Representatives as being established or controlled by a lobbyist/registrant under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995.  (11 CFR 104.22(a)(4)(i))

If a political committee is able to obtain definitive guidance from the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House that it is, or is not, required to be disclosed as being established or controlled under the Lobbying Disclosure Act, then such determination is conclusive and the political committee need not consider the additional criteria in the Commission’s new lobbyist bundling rules. 

If a political committee cannot tell for sure whether it must be disclosed to the Secretary of the Senate or the Clerk of the House as being established or controlled by a lobbyist/registrant, then the political committee must consult the additional criteria in the Commission’s new lobbyist bundling rules to determine if it is “established or controlled” by a lobbyist/registrant.  (11 CFR 104.22(a)(4)(ii))

11. What are the covered reporting periods?

Reporting committees must file Form 3L semi-annually if they receive bundled contributions exceeding the reporting threshold (currently, $17,300) in that semi-annual period.  In addition, reporting committees file Form 3L for the covered period that corresponds to their regular schedule of filing campaign finance reports (e.g., monthly, quarterly, pre- and post-election) if they receive bundled contributions exceeding the reporting threshold during that period.  Monthly filers may opt to file Form 3L quarterly instead of monthly.  (11 CFR 104.22(a)(5))