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Affiliation and contribution limits

Two or more affiliated committees are treated as a single committee for the purposes of the contribution limits. This means that all contributions made or received by several affiliated committees count against the same limits.

Affiliated committees: shared limit

Political committees established, financed, maintained or controlled by the same person, organization or group are affiliated. This definition applies to all types of political committees, including nonconnected committees, party committees, corporate/labor PACs and authorized committees. This is important because affiliated committees that make contributions to candidate committees share one overall contribution limit, per candidate, per election.

Party committees

Each state party committee has its own contribution limit, but local party committees within a state are presumed to be affiliated with the state party committee. A local party committee may be considered independent of the state party committee if it can meet certain standards as determined by the FEC through its advisory opinion process. This means that contributions from those local party committees that are required to register as federal political committees count against the state committee’s limit.

Note, however, that the national party committee, the House campaign committee and the Senate campaign committee are each considered a separate committee, with separate contribution limits (except for the special national party committee limit for Senate candidates).

Corporate/labor/membership organization PACs

All separate segregated funds (also called political action committees or PACs) established, financed, maintained or controlled by the same corporation or labor organization are affiliated. For example:

  • PACs established by a parent corporation and its subsidiaries are affiliated.
  • PACs established by a national or international union and its local unions are affiliated.
  • PACs established by a federation of national or international unions and the federation’s state and local central bodies are affiliated.
  • PACs established by an incorporated membership organization and its related state and local entities are affiliated.

When committees are not automatically affiliated under these conditions described above, the Commission may nevertheless conclude that two or more committees are affiliated based on factors listed in the regulations. The Commission makes these decisions, through advisory opinions, on a case-by-case basis. For examples, refer to the AOs listed in the legal citations block and AOs cited within.

Authorized committees

An authorized committee, however, can be affiliated only with another authorized committee of the same candidate. Note that, by definition, an unauthorized committee sponsored by an officeholder (that is, a “leadership PAC”) is not considered to be affiliated with any authorized committees sponsored by the same individual.

Unregistered local party organization

Local party organizations that do not have to register with the FEC may contribute an aggregate of $1,000 in a calendar year to federal candidates (assuming no other federal expenditures are made) without triggering a reporting requirement with the FEC. The organization must be able to show that the contribution was made with funds permissible under the Federal Election Campaign Act. Prior to crossing the registration threshold, the local organization does not share a contribution limit with the state party committee.