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AO 2014-03: Campaign May Run Ads Supporting Nonfederal Candidates

A federal candidate may spend unlimited campaign funds on advertisements that promote both his own candidacy and the election of candidates for state and local office.

Background
Edward Lindsey, a House candidate in the 11th Congressional District of Georgia, plans to spend campaign funds on television and other advertisements that expressly advocate both his own election and the election of certain state and local candidates who will appear on the same ballot. The candidate states that his campaign will not coordinate these expenditures with the state and local candidates and will comply with all applicable federal and state campaign finance laws.

Analysis
Federal candidates have wide discretion with respect to campaign spending. The Act and Commission regulations permit candidates to use contributions for otherwise authorized expenditures in unlimited amounts in connection with their campaigns for federal office. However, personal use of campaign funds is prohibited. See 2 U.S.C. §439a(a) and (b); 11 CFR 113.2.

Moreover, there is no limit on the amount of lawful campaign funds that a candidate may spend advocating his own election. See Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 55-58 (1976). Furthermore, because all of the funds at issue would be spent directly by the campaign committee, the Commission assumed that the funds would comply with the amount and source limits of the Act and Commission regulations.

Applying those provisions, the Commission concluded that Lindsey for Congress’s proposed use of unlimited campaign funds for ads supporting Mr. Lindsey’s campaign as well as those of state and local candidates is permissible, provided that the portions related to state and local candidates also comply with state law.

Date issued: 4/14/2014; Length: 4 pages.

(Posted 5/2/2014; 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; Email info@fec.gov. Greg Scott, Director; Alex Knott, Senior Writer/Editor; Dorothy Yeager, Production Manager