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AO 2012-39: Green Party of Virginia Qualifies as State Party Committee

The Green Party of Virginia (the GPV) qualifies as a state party committee under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) because: (1) the Green Party of the U.S. (the GPUS) qualifies as a political party; (2) GPV is part of the official GPUS structure; and (3) GPV is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the GPUS at the state level.

Background
The Act defines a “state committee” as an organization that, by virtue of the bylaws of a “political party,” is part of the official party structure and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the political party at the state level, as determined by the Commission. 2 U.S.C. §431(15); 11 CFR 100.14(a). A political party” is an “association, committee, or organization that nominates a candidate for election to any federal office whose name appears on the election ballot as the candidate of such association, committee, or organization.” 2 U.S.C. §431(16); 11 CFR 100.15. 

The determination as to whether a state party organization qualifies as a state committee of a national political party hinges on three elements. First, the national party the state party organization is part of must itself be a “political party.” Second, the state party organization must be part of the official structure of the national party. Third, the state party organization must be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the national party at the state level. See, e.g., Advisory Opinion (AOs) 2012-36 (Green Party of Connecticut), 2009-16 (Libertarian Party of Ohio), 2008-16 (Libertarian Party of Colorado), 2008-13 (Pacific Green Party of Oregon), 2007-06 (Libertarian Party of Indiana) and 2007-02 (Libertarian Party of Arizona).

Analysis
The Commission must first assess whether the national party qualifies as a “political party” under the Act and Commission regulations. 2 U.S.C. §§431(15) and (16); 11 CFR 100.14 and 100.15. In Advisory Opinion 2001-13 (Green Party of the United States) the Commission determined that the GPUS qualified as a political party, and recognized the GPUS as its national committee. The Commission is not aware of any factual changes that would alter that conclusion.

The GPV must also qualify as part of the official party structure of the national party, pursuant to 11 CFR 100.14. In previous advisory opinions, the Commission has looked to supporting documentation indicating the state party is part of the official party structure. See AOs 2012-36, 2008-16 and 2008-13. The GPV provided documentation that includes a letter from the Secretary of the GPUS confirming that the GPV is part of the GPUS’s official party structure. Third, the GPV must maintain responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the GPUS at the state level. 2 U.S.C. §431(15); 11 CFR 100.14. In previous advisory opinions, the Commission has evaluated this third element by considering two criteria:

  • Whether the organization has placed a “candidate” on the ballot (thereby qualifying as a “political party”); and
  • Whether the bylaws or other governing documents of the state party organization indicate activity commensurate with the day-to-day functions and operations of a political party at the state level.

Ballot placement on behalf of a “candidate” is required because the requesting organization’s existence as a “political party” is necessary for state committee status. A state party organization must actually obtain ballot access for one or more “candidates,” as defined by the Act. See 2 U.S.C. §§431(2), (15), and (16); 11 CFR 100.3(a), 100.14(a) and 100.15. Ms. Jill Stein qualified as a “candidate” under the Act, and Ms. Stein’s name was listed on the 2012 Virginia ballot as the GPUS’s candidate for President, satisfying the first criterion. Further, the GPV listed Mr. Joe Galdo, Jr. as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives on the 2012 ballot. Mr. Galdo, too, met the qualifications of a “candidate” under the Act according to disclosure reports filed with the Commission. Consequently, the GPV qualifies as a “political party” under the Act.

The Commission also determined the GPV’s constitution and bylaws delineate activity commensurate with the day-to-day functions and operations of a political party on the state level, thereby satisfying the second criterion.

Because all three elements of the definition of “state committee” are satisfied, the Commission concluded the GPV qualifies as a state committee of a political party under the Act and Commission regulations.

Date Issued: January 31, 2013; 5 pages

(Posted 2/06/2013; By: Travis Drake)

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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, Sr. Writer/Editor; Dorothy Yeager, Production Manager