Who is a collecting agent
A collecting agent is an organization or committee that collects and transmits contributions to one or more SSFs to which the collecting agent is related. The following types of organizations may function as collecting agents:
- The SSF’s connected organization;
- A parent, subsidiary, division, branch or local unit of the connected organization; and
- An affiliated committee (federal or nonfederal).
In addition, a local, state, national or international labor organization belonging to a federation of labor organizations (such as the AFL-CIO) may act as a collecting agent for the federation’s SSF. Also, local, state or national chapters of membership organizations may serve as collecting agents for the national organization’s SSF.
As long as the collecting agent does not engage in other activities for the purpose of influencing a federal election, it has no registration or reporting obligations with the FEC.
Nonetheless the collecting agent must:
- Comply with the solicitation restrictions;
- Forward the contributions to the SSF on time; and
- Keep records on contributors and provide the information to the SSF for disclosure purposes.
Who is not a collecting agent
The special collecting agent rules described in this section do not apply to the following:
- Partnerships; or
- Commercial fundraising firms.
While these persons are not considered collecting agents, they must still observe the forwarding deadlines described on this page in "Timeframes for forwarding contributions and records" when they accept contributions on behalf of an SSF. They also may not commingle SSF contributions with their own funds.
Regardless of whether the SSF uses the connected organization or another committee as its collecting agent, the SSF remains responsible for seeing that the agent follows the rules for soliciting and depositing contributions and forwarding records. The SSF is also responsible for reporting the contributions.
Solicitations by collecting agents
Lawful contributions only
Like any person who solicits contributions for an SSF, a collecting agent may solicit only those individuals who are eligible for solicitation under the law and must comply with the other rules on solicitations.
Payment of solicitation expenses
A collecting agent may pay the expenses of soliciting and transmitting contributions to the SSF. These payments are not considered contributions or expenditures and do not need to be reported unless the collecting agent is a registered political committee.
If the SSF pays for the solicitation costs or other expenses which the collecting agent may pay as an administrative expense, the collecting agent may reimburse the SSF, but the reimbursement must be made within 30 days.
Collecting agents using combined payments to collect SSF contributions must ensure that their solicitation materials contain the required notifications described in Notices required in SSF solicitations.
Checks payable to the SSF must be forwarded directly to the SSF by the collecting agent. In the case of cash contributions, the collecting agent may transmit the contributions to the SSF in the form of money orders or cashier’s checks made out to the SSF.
In many cases, however, the collecting agent receives a contribution intended for the SSF as part of a larger receipt (for example, as part of a payroll deduction or combined dues/solicitation) and must separate the amount intended as a SSF contribution from other funds it receives in that check or payment. To do this, the collecting agent may temporarily deposit the funds, in order to separate the funds intended for the SSF and to transmit those funds in a timely manner.
Depositing funds temporarily
Contributions collected by the collecting agent in the form of checks or electronic payment and cash contributions may be temporarily deposited in any one of three types of accounts:
Transmittal account: A collecting agent may establish a transmittal account used solely for the deposit and transmittal of contributions collected on behalf of the SSF. If any expenditures are made from the account, other than transfers to the SSF or its affiliated committees, the account automatically becomes a campaign depository of the SSF and all of the account’s activity will have to be disclosed.
Collecting agent’s account: A collecting agent may also use its own account for the temporary deposit and transmittal of contributions to the SSF. The agent must keep separate records of all receipts and deposits that represent contributions to the SSF. Cash contributions must be deposited separately so that separate deposit slips are retained in the committee’s records.
Nonfederal account: A collecting agent may deposit and temporarily hold SSF contributions in an account established for state and local political activities (i.e., a state or local PAC). A collecting agent holding SSF contributions in a nonfederal account must keep separate records of all receipts and deposits of SSF contributions.
Timeframes for forwarding contributions and records
Anyone or any entity who raises money for an SSF must forward the required recordkeeping information to the SSF along with the collected contributions. Individual contributions of $50 or less must be forwarded within 30 days; contributions exceeding $50 must be forwarded within 10 days.
The information that must be obtained for the committee’s records varies, depending on the amount of each individual contribution.