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AO 2012-32 Committee and Candidates Must Wait for Multicandidate Status

A committee may not make contributions to candidates in excess of $2,500 per election until it has qualified as a multicandidate committee, nor may candidates accept such contributions.

Background

The Tea Party Leadership Fund (“TPLF”) is a nonconnected political committee that registered with the Commission on May 9, 2012. It represents that it has made contributions to seven candidates and has received contributions from at least 4,500 persons to its contribution account and from more than 70 persons to its non-contribution account.

TPLF represents that it has already contributed $2,500 each to the campaigns of House Candidate Sean Bielat and Senate Candidate John Raese. TPLF asked the Commission if it may make additional contributions of $2,500 to the campaigns of Mr. Bielat and Mr. Raese without violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (the “Act”) and Commission regulations.

Analysis

The Act provides that “no person shall make contributions to any candidate and his authorized political committees with respect to any election for federal office which, in the aggregate, exceed $2,[500].” 2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(1)(A); see also 11 CFR 110.1(b). The Act also provides that “no multicandidate political committee shall make contributions to any candidate and his authorized political committees with respect to any election for Federal office which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000.” 2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(2)(A); see also 11 CFR 110.2(b). And the Act also provides that no candidate or political committee shall knowingly accept any contribution that is in violation of the applicable contribution limits. 2 U.S.C. §441a(f); see also 11 CFR 110.9.

The Act defines a “multicandidate political committee” for purposes of the contribution limits of section §441a(a)(2) as “a political committee which has been registered under section 433 of this title for a period of not less than six months, which has received contributions from more than 50 persons, and, except for any state political party organization, has made contributions to five or more candidates for federal office.” 2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(4); see also 11 CFR 100.5(e)(3) (defining “multicandidate committee”).

TPLF has not yet qualified as a multicandidate committee. Although it has received contributions from more than 50 persons and made contributions to more than five candidates, it has not been registered with the FEC as a political committee for a period of six months. As a result, TPLF is subject to the contribution limits of section 441a(a)(1)(A), and may not make contributions to any candidate with respect to any election which, in the aggregate, exceed $2,500. Moreover, candidates such as Mr. Bielat and Mr. Raese may not knowingly accept contributions from TPLF that are in excess of $2,500 per election.

Date Issued: October 10, 2012; Length: 4 pages.

(Posted 10/12/12; By: Alex Knott)

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The FEC Record is produced by the Information Division, Office of Communications. Toll free 800-424-9530; Local 202-694-1100; E-mail info@fec.gov. Greg Scott, Director; Alex Knott, Senior Writer/Editor; Myles Martin, Editor