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Political parties

Qualifying as a state or national party committee

The Commission determines whether a committee meets the criteria for state or national party committee status through the advisory opinion process. 

For state committee status, the Commission has generally looked to see whether the committee engages in activities that are commensurate with the day-to-day operations of a party at the state level and whether the committee has gained ballot access for its federal candidates.

For national committee status, the criteria include all of the following:

  • Nominating qualified candidates for President and various Congressional offices in numerous states
  • Engaging in certain activities — such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives — on an ongoing basis
  • Publicizing the party's supporters and primary issues throughout the nation
  • Holding a national convention
  • Setting up a national office
  • Establishing state affiliates

Party coordinated communications

When a party committee pays for a communication that is coordinated with a candidate, the communication is either an in-kind contribution or a coordinated party expenditure. 

Conversely, when a non-party committee pays for a communication that is coordinated with a political party committee, the communication is an in-kind contribution to the party committee.

Coordinated party expenditures and limits

A national party committee and its state party committees may make special expenditures in connection with the general election campaigns of federal candidates. These coordinated party expenditures do not count against the contribution limits but are subject to a different set of limits. Additionally, any coordinated party expenditures must be made with federally permissible funds only. Each year, the Commission publishes the coordinated party expenditure limits on its website.