The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 (HLOGA) amended the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) to restrict campaign-related travel on non-commercial aircraft (including aircraft owned by corporations or labor organizations). This page summarizes the rules for travel payments.
Campaign traveler defined
Commission regulations define the term “campaign traveler” as any individual traveling in connection with an election for federal office on behalf of a candidate or political committee, and candidates who travel on behalf of their own campaigns. The term campaign traveler also includes any member of the news media traveling with a candidate.
If a candidate or any other person traveling on behalf of a campaign or other political committee uses commercial transportation, such as a commercial airline or charter service, or another means of commercial transportation, the committee must pay the usual and normal charge for that service to avoid receiving an in-kind contribution from the service provider.
Non-commercial air transportation
If a campaign traveler uses an aircraft that is not operated for commercial service, such as a corporate- or labor-organization-owned aircraft that is operated exclusively for the private travel of the organization’s executives and their guests, the travel must comply with HLOGA.
Travel on behalf of House candidates and House leadership PACs
House candidates, individuals traveling on behalf of House candidates, their authorized committees, or the leadership PACs of House candidates are generally prohibited from engaging in non-commercial campaign travel on aircraft. This prohibition does not apply when the travel would be considered an expenditure by someone other than the House candidate, the House candidate’s authorized committee or the House candidate’s leadership PAC (for example, if the House candidate were traveling on behalf of a Senate candidate instead of on behalf of his or her own campaign). This prohibition cannot be avoided by payments to the service provider, even if the payments derive from the personal funds of a House candidate.
Presidential, vice presidential and Senate candidate travel
Candidates for president, vice president and the Senate must pay the pro rata share of the fair market value for non-commercial flights. The pro rata share is determined by dividing the fair market value of the normal and usual charter fare or rental charge for a comparable aircraft of comparable size by the number of campaign travelers flying on behalf of any candidates on the flight. The pro rata share is calculated based on the number of candidates represented on a flight, regardless of whether the individual candidate is actually present on the flight. A candidate is represented on a flight if a person is traveling on behalf of that candidate or the candidate’s authorized committee.
Travel on behalf of leadership PACs of Senate, presidential and vice presidential and Senate candidates
For non-commercial travel on behalf of the leadership PACs of Senate, presidential and vice presidential candidates, the reimbursement for that travel is the responsibility of the committee on whose behalf the travel occurs. The reimbursement rates are as follows:
- The lowest unrestricted and non-discounted first-class airfare in the case of travel between cities served by regularly scheduled first-class commercial airline service;
- The lowest unrestricted and non-discounted coach airfare in the case of travel between a city served by regularly scheduled coach commercial airline service, but not regularly scheduled first-class commercial airline service, and a city served by regularly scheduled coach commercial airline service (with or without first-class commercial airline service); or
- The normal and usual charter fare or rental charge for a comparable commercial aircraft of sufficient size to accommodate all campaign travelers and security personnel, if applicable, in the case of travel to or from a city not served by regularly scheduled commercial airline service.
To avoid the receipt of an in-kind contribution, the committee must reimburse the service provider no later than seven calendar days after the date the flight began.
Travel on behalf of other political committees
The reimbursement rate structure for campaign travelers who are traveling on behalf of political party committees, SSFs, nonconnected committees and certain leadership PACs is the same reimbursement rate structure described on this page for “Travel on behalf of leadership PACs of Senate, presidential and vice presidential candidates.”
Non-commercial transportation other than air travel
For non-commercial travel via other means, such as limousines and all other automobiles, trains and buses, a political committee must pay the service provider (or the organization that paid must be reimbursed) the normal and usual fare or rental charge for a comparable commercial conveyance of sufficient size to accommodate all campaign travelers, including members of the news media traveling with a candidate and security personnel, if applicable. Payment (or reimbursement) for the travel must be made within 30 days from the receipt of the invoice, but no more than 60 days following the date the travel commenced.