Fundraising for state or local candidates and elections
A federal candidate, officeholder or his or her agents, and any entity directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by, or acting on behalf of, one or more federal candidates or officeholders, may raise funds in connection with a nonfederal election, but only in amounts consistent with state law and that do not exceed the Federal Election Campaign Act’s (the Act's) contribution limits or come from prohibited sources.
In AO 2010-07, the Commission concluded that Members of Congress could solicit funds outside the Act's limits and prohibitions on behalf of a California ballot initiative committee during the time before the initiative qualified for the ballot, and afterward could solicit up to $20,000 from individuals on behalf of the committee.
Candidates running for both federal and nonfederal office
Commission regulations provide a limited exception for federal candidates and officeholders who seek state or local office. The restrictions on raising and spending funds outside the Act’s limitations and prohibitions do not apply to any federal candidate or officeholder who is or was also a candidate for state or local office so long as the raising or spending of funds:
- Is solely in connection with his or her state or local campaign;
- Refers only to him or her or to other candidates for that same state or local office; and
- Is permitted under state law.
If the candidate or officeholder is simultaneously running for both federal and state or local offices, then the candidate or his or her agents may only raise and spend funds within the limits, prohibitions and reporting requirements of the Act for the federal election.
Fundraising at nonfederal events
A federal candidate or officeholder may attend, speak at and be a featured guest at a nonfederal fundraiser. He or she is also free to solicit funds at the fundraising event, provided that the solicitation for funds is within the limitations and prohibitions of the Act and consistent with state law.
Such a solicitation should either be explicitly limited or should be limited by displaying at the fundraiser a clear and conspicuous written notice, or by making a clear and conspicuous oral statement, that the solicitation is not for Levin funds (when applicable) and does not seek funds in excess of federally permissible amounts or from corporations, labor organizations, national banks, federal government contractors and foreign nationals. If the federal candidate or officeholder chooses to make an oral statement, it need only be made once.
Publicity for nonfederal fundraising events
FEC regulations also address the publicity for nonfederal fundraisers including, but not limited to, ads, announcements or pre-event invitation materials, regardless of format or medium of the communication.
If the publicity does not contain a solicitation or solicits only federally permissible funds, then the federal candidate or officeholder (or agent of either) is free to consent to the use of the name or likeness of the federal candidate or officeholder in the publicity for the nonfederal fundraiser.
If the publicity contains a solicitation for funds outside the limitations or prohibitions of the Act or Levin funds, the federal candidate or officeholder (or agent of either) may consent to the use the name or likeness of the federal candidate or officeholder in the publicity, only if:
- The federal candidate or officeholder is identified in a manner not specifically related to fundraising, such as a featured guest, honored guest, special guest, featured speaker or honored speaker and
- The publicity includes a clear and conspicuous oral or written disclaimer that the solicitation is not being made by the federal candidate or officeholder. Examples of disclaimers are provided in the regulation at 11 CFR 300.64(c)(3)(iv).
However, a federal candidate or officeholder (or agent of either) may not agree to the use of his or her name or likeness in publicity that contains a solicitation of funds outside the limitations and prohibitions of the Act or of Levin funds if the federal candidate or officeholder:
- Is identified as serving in a manner specifically related to fundraising, such as honorary chairperson or member of a host committee;
- Is identified in the publicity as extending the invitation to the event; or
- Signs the communication.
These restrictions apply even if the publicity contains a disclaimer.
In addition, the federal candidate or officeholder is prohibited from disseminating publicity for nonfederal fundraisers that contains a solicitation of funds outside the limitations or prohibitions of the Act or of Levin funds.
Supporting independent expenditure-only political committees
Political committees that make only independent expenditures may solicit and accept unlimited contributions from individuals, corporations, labor organizations and other political committees. They may not accept contributions from foreign nationals, federal contractors, national banks or federally chartered corporations. Such committees, known as independent expenditure-only political committees (IEOPCs), must register with the Commission and comply with all applicable reporting requirements of the Act.
Federal candidates and officeholders may raise funds on behalf of IEOPCs so long as they only solicit funds subject to the Act’s amount limitations and source prohibitions—i.e., up to $5,000 from individuals (and any other source not prohibited by the Act from making a contribution to a political committee). Additionally, federal candidates and officeholders may attend, speak at and be featured guests at fundraisers for IEOPCs at which unlimited individual, corporate and labor organization contributions are solicited, so long as they restrict any solicitation they make to funds subject to the limitations, prohibitions and reporting requirements of the Act.