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Communications coordinated with a party committee

There are rules governing communications that are paid for by an outside group or individual and are coordinated with a party committee. If these communications meet the three-pronged test for coordination, then the payment for the communication is an in-kind contribution to the party committee. In 2010, the Commission revised the content prong under 11 CFR 109.21 to cover public communications that are the functional equivalent of express advocacy.

Determining coordination

Communications that are coordinated with a party committee satisfy a similar three-pronged test for coordination. However, there are six important differences:

  • The communication must be paid for in whole or in part by a person other than the political party committee.
  • Electioneering communications will satisfy the content prong.
  • The content prong includes a standard that addresses references to political parties. If the public communication refers to a political party, does not refer to a clearly identified federal candidate and is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in a jurisdiction where one or more candidates of that political party will appear on the ballot, then the content standard for a communication that is coordinated with a party committee will be met.
  • A public communication that is the functional equivalent of express advocacy will satisfy the content prong if the communication is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a clearly identified federal candidate. This content standard applies without regard to the timing of the communication or the targeted audience. In applying the test, the Commission will follow the Supreme Court’s reasoning in FEC v.Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc., 551 U.S. 449 (2007) and Citizens United v. FEC, 130 S.Ct. 876 (2010).
  • The coordination rules establish an additional safe harbor for communications identifying a candidate only in his or her capacity as the owner or operator of a business.
  • Coordinated communications under 11 CFR 109.21 are treated as in-kind contributions, and are not under the coordinated party expenditure limits.

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