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Supporting multiple candidates

A “direct candidate support” activity is an in-kind contribution or an independent expenditure that supports specific candidates. In-kind contributions that must be allocated include payments for fundraising activities conducted on behalf of both federal and nonfederal candidates. An independent expenditure must be allocated if it advocates the election or defeat of both federal and nonfederal candidates.

Allocable direct candidate support also includes public communications or voter drives that refer to both federal and nonfederal candidates, regardless of any reference to a political party.

As explained, a nonconnected committee must allocate direct candidate support expenses only if it uses separate federal and nonfederal accounts to pay for them.

Activities not subject to allocation

Public communications that refer to one or more federal candidates, but do not refer to any nonfederal candidates, must be funded exclusively with federal funds, even if the communication includes a generic reference to a political party.

Voter drives in which the printed materials, scripted messages or written instructions refer to one or more federal candidates, but do not refer to any nonfederal candidates, must be financed exclusively with federal funds, regardless of any references to a political party or a particular issue.

Public communications that refer to nonfederal candidates, but do not refer to any federal candidates, may be financed with nonfederal funds, regardless of whether the communication refers to a political party.

These communications may also be funded by the federal account if permitted by the relevant state law.

Voter drives in which the printed materials, scripted messages or written instructions refer to nonfederal candidates, but do not refer to any federal candidates, may be financed with nonfederal funds, regardless of any reference to a political party or particular issue. These voter drives may also be funded by the federal account if permitted by the relevant state law.

Allocation between accounts

When a committee makes a public communication or conducts voter drive activity referring to both federal and nonfederal candidates, regardless of whether there is a reference to a political party, the costs must be allocated whether or not the activity qualifies as an in-kind contribution or an independent expenditure.

Expenses for shared activities must be allocated between the accounts to ensure that the federal account pays its share of the costs associated with that activity. Allocation is not required, however, if shared expenses are paid entirely by the federal account.

Failure to allocate expenses when required could result in a contribution by the nonfederal account to the federal account—a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.

Payment of allocable direct candidate support expenses

Committees with separate federal and nonfederal accounts must use one of the following two methods to pay allocable activity expenses:

Payment from federal account

The committee may pay the entire amount from its federal account, transferring funds from the nonfederal account to the federal account only to cover the nonfederal share of allocable expenses.

Payment from allocation account

The committee may establish a separate allocation account for the sole purpose of paying joint federal and nonfederal expenses. 

Under the second option, the committee transfers funds from both the federal and nonfederal accounts to the separate allocation account in amounts equal, respectively, to the federal and nonfederal shares of each allocable expense. The allocation account is considered a federal account, and the committee must include the account’s receipts and disbursements in its FEC reports.

Timing of internal transfers

The committee must transfer funds from the nonfederal account to the federal account (or to the allocation account) within a 70-day “window”— not more than 10 days before or 60 days after the original payment to the vendor. The committee must report each such transfer and itemize the activities the transferred funds are intended to pay. (A transfer from the federal account to the allocation account is permissible at any time and is not reported separately.)

Time limits also apply to adjustments of the allocation ratio and corresponding transfers, which may be required after an activity where federal and nonfederal funds are raised.

Allocation ratios

Committees with separate federal and nonfederal accounts must use the following allocation ratios to determine the federal and nonfederal share of allocable activity expenses.

Space / Time ratio

Used for:

  • Public communications that refer to both federal and nonfederal candidates; and
  • Voter drives, including voter identification, voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives that refer to both clearly identified federal and nonfederal candidates.

Calculation:

Costs are allocated according to the ratio of space or time devoted to federal candidates compared with the total space or time devoted to all candidates, federal and nonfederal. In the case of a phone bank, the ratio is determined by the number of questions or statements devoted to federal candidates compared with the total number of questions or statements for all candidates.

Allocating costs of public communications and voter drives for candidates

When a committee makes a public communication or conducts voter drive activity referring to both federal and nonfederal candidates, regardless of whether there is a reference to a political party, the costs must be allocated whether or not the activity qualifies as an in-kind contribution or an independent expenditure. This section’s explanation of the rules for allocating these costs is based on the following scenario:

Example: Allocating costs of public communications and voter drives for candidates

Civil Republic PAC, a nonconnected committee, maintains a separate nonfederal account for use in state and local elections. During the election year, Civil Republic PAC plans to purchase several advertisements in local newspapers to urge voters to support four candidates: a candidate for governor, a candidate for state treasurer, a candidate for secretary of state and a candidate for the U.S. Senate. Equal space in the advertisements will be devoted to each candidate. The total cost for running the advertisements is $4,250.

Required forms

  • Schedule B: Itemized Disbursements (if communications are in-kind contributions)
  • Schedule E: Itemized Independent Expenditures (if communications qualify)
  • Schedule H2: Allocation Ratios
  • Schedule H3: Transfers from Nonfederal to Federal Account
  • Schedule H4: Disbursements for Allocated Activity

Unique identifier

Every direct candidate support activity must be assigned a unique identifying name or code. On Schedule H2, Civil Republic PAC lists “Newspaper Campaign” as the unique identifier for the activity. The committee will use “Newspaper Campaign” to refer to the advertisements in all future reports.

Allocation ratio

Because “Newspaper Campaign” is a public communication, the committee uses a “time and space ratio” to allocate the $4,250 total expected cost on Schedule H2. In this case, the ratio of space devoted to federal candidates to space used for all candidates is 1/4. (The committee would base its allocation on time if the advertisements were broadcast.)

Expressing the allocation ratio in percentages, Civil Republic PAC enters 25 percent federal and 75 percent nonfederal in the appropriate spaces on Schedule H2.

Payments

Civil Republic PAC makes all allocable payments from its federal account (or separate allocation account) and itemizes them on Schedule H4. Because the payments are independent expenditures, the federal share is itemized on Schedule E and included in the total figure for Line 24 (Independent Expenditures) of the Detailed Summary Page.

The “event year-to-date” figure represents the aggregate amount paid to all payees for “Newspaper Campaign” as of the date of payment.

Transfer of funds

The nonfederal share is 3/4 of the $4,250 total cost. The committee transfers $3,187.50 from the nonfederal account to the federal account (or separate allocation account). The transfer is made during the permissible 70-day window.

Civil Republic PAC reports the receipt of the transfer on Schedule H3. The amount is also included on Line 18(a) of the Detailed Summary Page.

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