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Types of political party committees

Qualifying as a local, district or subordinate party committee

A district or local party committee is the organization that by virtue of the bylaws of a political party or by the operation of state law is part of the official party structure. It is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a political party at the level of city, county, neighborhood, ward, district, precinct or any other subdivision of a state.

A subordinate committee is a committee that operates in any subdivision of a state or is an organization under the control or direction of a state committee and is directly or indirectly established, financed, directed or controlled by a state, district or local committee.

Qualifying as a state party committee

A state party committee is the organization that by virtue of the bylaws of a political party or by the operation of state law is part of the official party structure and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of a political party at the state level, including any entity established, maintained, financed or controlled by the organization.

Whether an organization qualifies as a state party committee is determined by the Commission. Committees desiring such a determination should submit an AO request to the Commission.

Three requirements must be met in order for a committee to qualify as a state party committee:

  1. The committee must have at least one candidate for federal office whose name appears on the ballot as a candidate of the committee;
  2. The committee must possess an official party structure; and
  3. The relationship between the political party and the committee must be based on an agreement that requires the committee to perform activities commensurate with the day-to-day operation of the party on a state level (such as raising contributions; assisting candidates’ fundraising efforts; conducting voter registration drives; holding state conventions; and nominating candidates for state and federal office).

Qualifying as a national party committee

Federal law defines a national committee as an organization which, by virtue of the bylaws of a political party, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the party at the national level, as determined by the Commission.

A committee should seek an AO to verify that it has attained national committee status before taking advantage of the expanded contribution and expenditure limits that apply to a qualified national committee. The Commission will decide whether the committee or the party has demonstrated sufficient national-level activity to qualify, based on criteria:

  • Nominating candidates for federal office in numerous states: The party’s ballot access efforts must extend beyond the presidential races to races for the U.S. Congress. The party must have a sufficient number of party-designated federal candidates on the ballot in a sufficient number of states in different geographic areas to meet this requirement.
  • Conducting activities on ongoing basis: The committee must engage in activities such as voter registration drives on an ongoing basis (rather than with respect to a particular election).
  • Publicizing issues nationwide: A national committee must publicize, on a national basis, issues of importance to the party and its adherents such as through print or on a party website. This activity might involve publishing the party’s philosophy and positions, issuing press releases and distributing a national newsletter.
  • Other criteria: Other factors which indicate that a party committee has attained national status include holding a national convention; setting up national headquarters; and establishing state party committees.

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