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Support to nonconnected PACs from corporations and labor organizations

Free legal and accounting services

The value of legal and accounting services provided to a nonconnected committee solely to ensure compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act is not a contribution if the regular employer of the individual performing the services is the one who is paying for the services. The value of the services, however, must be reported as a memo entry on Schedule A.

Use of corporate/labor facilities and resources

Corporate/labor volunteers

An employee, stockholder or member of a corporation or labor organization may make occasional, isolated or incidental use of the organization’s facilities for volunteer work on behalf of a nonconnected committee, subject to the rules and practices of the organization. However, the volunteer may have to reimburse the corporation or labor organization in certain cases.

When making use of the facilities and resources of a corporation or labor organization, individuals acting on behalf of nonconnected committees must make required reimbursements and advance payments according to the following guidelines. Otherwise, the activity results in a prohibited in-kind contribution from the corporation or labor union to the nonconnected committee. Note also that when someone pays for a nonconnected committee’s use of corporate/labor facilities, the payment is considered a reportable in-kind contribution to the committee.

Use of facilities by employees, stockholders and members as volunteers

When an employee, stockholder or member of a corporation or labor organization uses the organization’s facilities for volunteer work in connection with federal elections—for example, by using office computers and printers for political work—the volunteer may need to reimburse the organization for the use of the facilities. Moreover, a corporation or labor organization may not condition the availability of its facilities on their being used for political activity in support of or in opposition to any particular candidate or political party.

Limited reimbursement required for “occasional, isolated or incidental” use of facilities

Employees, stockholders and members of the corporation or labor organization may, subject to the rules and practices of the corporation or labor organization, make occasional, isolated or incidental use of the organization’s facilities for volunteer activity in connection with a federal election and will be required to reimburse the corporation or labor organization only to the extent that these activities increase the overhead or operating costs of the corporation or labor organization.

“Occasional, isolated or incidental use” generally means the following:

  • When used by employees during working hours, an amount of activity which does not prevent the employee from completing the normal amount of work which that employee usually carries out during such work period; or
  • When used by stockholders or members other than employees during the working period, such use does not interfere with the corporation or labor organization in carrying out its normal activities. (Exception: see “Use of facilities to produce materials.")

Safe harbor for use of corporate or labor organization facilities

General safe harbor of one hour per week/four hours per month

Commission regulations provide for a safe harbor that any individual volunteer activity in connection with a federal election that does not exceed one hour per week or four hours per month, regardless of whether the activity is undertaken during or after normal working hours, will be considered occasional, isolated or incidental. 

Additional safe harbor for voluntary Internet activities

A separate safe harbor exists for employees and stockholders who use the corporation or labor organization’s computer and related equipment and facilities for voluntary Internet activity in connection with a federal election. The safe harbor for Internet activity does not include any specific restrictions on the number of hours used for this activity. The safe harbor applies to Internet activities conducted during or after normal working hours. Generally, individual Internet activity will fall within the safe harbor and be considered occasional, isolated or incidental provided that:

  • The activity does not prevent the employee from completing the work the employee is expected to per- form;
  • The activity does not increase the overhead or operating cost of the corporation or the labor organization; and
  • The work is not performed under coercion.

The Internet activities covered by this safe harbor include, but are not limited to, sending or forwarding email, providing hyperlinks or other direct access to another person’s website, blogging, creating or maintaining a website, paying a nominal fee for the use of another person’s website or any other form of communication distributed over the Internet.

Reimbursement required

When use of the facilities exceeds occasional, isolated or “incidental use,” the volunteer must reimburse the organization the usual and normal charge for the facilities used (rather than merely for the increase in overhead or operating costs) within a commercially reasonable time.

Use of facilities by others

General rule

If a person other than an employee, stockholder or member uses the facilities of a corporation or labor organization in connection with a federal election, the user must reimburse the organization within a commercially reasonable time and at the usual and normal charge. Facilities used for these purposes might include office space, telephones, computers and furniture.

Meeting rooms

Meeting rooms are treated the same as other facilities (e.g., reimbursement at the usual and normal charge within a commercially reasonable time) unless the corporation or labor organization customarily makes its meeting rooms available to clubs, civic organizations or other groups. In that case, the organization may make the rooms available to political committees on the same terms given to other groups (including free use of the facilities).

The rooms must also be made available to any other candidates or political committees, upon request, on the same terms.

Use of facilities to produce materials

If anyone—including an employee, stockholder or member—uses the facilities of a corporation or labor organization to produce materials in connection with a federal election, the individual must reimburse the organization within a commercially reasonable time at the usual and normal charge for producing such materials.