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Candidate or party appearances at corporation or labor organization

The rules for candidate or party appearances paid for by a corporation or labor organization vary, depending on the audience for the appearance: the restricted class for communications, or the corporation or labor organization’s employees and their families.

Candidate and party appearances before the restricted class for communications

The corporation or labor organization may allow a candidate or party representative to appear before the restricted class for communications at a meeting, convention, via a teleconference or at some other function of the corporation or labor organization.

Express advocacy permitted

Both the candidate or party representative and the corporation or labor organization may expressly advocate the election or defeat of the candidate, other candidates or the party.

Coordination with the candidate

A corporation or labor organization may confer with the candidate or party representative on the structure, format and timing of the appearance. However, coordination with the candidate or party representative may compromise the independence of future communications (such as independent expenditures or electioneering communications) to individuals beyond the restricted class by either the corporation, labor organization or its SSF.

Solicitations

The candidate or party representative may solicit and accept contributions from the restricted class before, during or after the appearance. This includes giving out telephone numbers and addresses, and leaving campaign materials and mailing envelopes at the appearance site. The corporation or labor organization may also suggest that its restricted class make contributions to a candidate or party, but may not collect any contributions before, during or after the meeting.

In addition to soliciting contributions to be sent directly to the candidate or party, a corporation or labor organization may solicit contributions earmarked for a particular candidate. These earmarked contributions must be collected by and forwarded through the SSF of the corporation or labor organization and must be considered contributions both to and from the SSF. The contribution will count, therefore, against the limits of both the contributor and the SSF.

Presence of people outside of the restricted class

The corporation or labor organization may allow, to a limited degree, the attendance of the following individuals who are outside of the restricted class:

  • Employees who are outside the restricted class but who are necessary to administer the meeting;
  • Other guests who are being honored, are speaking or are participating in the event; and
  • News media.

Appearances by other candidates or party representatives

The corporation or labor organization may grant or deny other candidates and parties the opportunity to appear, as the corporation or labor organization desires.

Allowing media coverage

If the corporation or labor organization allows more than one candidate for the same office to appear and permits the media to cover the appearance of one candidate, it must permit media coverage of the other candidate(s) for that office as well. Similarly, if one party’s representative is permitted media coverage, then an appearance by any other party’s representative must also be permitted media coverage.

Reporting

When a corporation, labor organization, trade association or incorporated membership organization (the “connected organization”) pays for express advocacy communications (including candidate or party appearances) that are directed to the restricted class, the connected organization (rather than the SSF) must report the payments on FEC Form 7, once the payments exceed $2,000 for any election.

Payment by SSF

If the connected organization’s SSF pays for a communication to the restricted class, the payment is not considered a contribution. Nevertheless, the SSF must include it on its regular FEC report, by categorizing it as an “other disbursement” on FEC Form 3X, Line 29. See AO 2000-03 for additional reporting information. (An SSF paying for a communication to the restricted class should cite this advisory opinion on the report.)

Appearances before all employees and their families

A corporation or labor organization may sponsor candidate or party representative appearances that are attended by all members of the restricted class (including their families), as well as all other employees and their families, other honored guests, speakers, participants and the news media (if invited).

Location of appearance

The corporation or labor organization may allow the appearance at a meeting, at a convention or at some other function of the corporation or labor organization. Alternatively, the appearance may take the form of a teleconference.

Express advocacy

The candidate may expressly advocate his or her election, but the corporation or labor organization may not, nor may it encourage its employees to do so. Such express advocacy by the corporation or labor organization to an audience beyond the restricted class will result in a prohibited contribution to the candidate or party.

Coordination with the candidate

The corporation or labor organization may coordinate with the candidate or party representative concerning the timing, structure and format of the appearance, and on the candidate’s position on issues. Coordination regarding the campaign’s plans, projects and needs, however, will result in a prohibited in-kind contribution.

Solicitations

A corporation (including its SSF or any employee) or labor organization (including its SSF, any official, member or employee) may not solicit, direct or control contributions in conjunction with any candidate or party appearance before those outside the restricted class.

While attending the event, the candidate or party representative may solicit but may not accept contributions before, during or after the appearance. The candidate or party representative may, however, leave envelopes and campaign materials for members of the audience.

Equal opportunity for other candidates or parties

The SSF, corporation or labor organization also must allow other candidates for the same office to appear, if they request to do so. The following guidelines apply:

  • If a candidate for the House or Senate is allowed to make an appearance, all other candidates for that seat must be given a similar opportunity upon request.
  • If a presidential or vice presidential candidate is allowed to make an appearance, all candidates for that office meeting the pre-established objective criteria for candidate debates must be given a similar opportunity upon request.
  • If representatives of a political party are allowed to make an appearance, representatives of all political parties that either had a candidate on the ballot in the last general election, will have a candidate on the ballot in the next general election or are actively engaged in placing a candidate on the ballot in the next general election must be given a similar opportunity upon request.
  • Candidates should be provided with similar amounts of time and similar locations as other candidates are provided.