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Food and beverage discounts

A vendor of food or beverages (even if incorporated) may sell food and beverages to a campaign at a discount. The amount charged must at least equal the vendor’s cost for the items. If the value of the discount—the difference between the normal charge and the amount paid by the campaign—does not exceed $1,000 per candidate, per election, the discount is not considered a contribution. Discounts exceeding $1,000, however, are in-kind contributions and must be reported as such. A corporate vendor may not exceed the $1,000 discount limit since corporate contributions are prohibited.

Discounts in the ordinary course of business

Discounts given in the ordinary course of business and on the same terms and conditions offered to the vendor’s other (nonpolitical committee) customers do not result in contributions. For example, the Commission determined that a corporate vendor may offer its cybersecurity services to federal candidates and political committees at the same "low or no cost" tier that it offers to all qualified customers without making an impermissible in-kind contribution. The vendor must offer the services in the ordinary course of business, on the same terms and conditions and at the same rate that it offers to non-political clients.

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