As defined by the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations, a “multicandidate committee,” is a political committee that has:
- Been registered with the Commission or the Secretary of the Senate for at least six months;
- Received contributions from more than 50 persons; and
- Made contributions to five or more federal candidates (a state party committee does not need to meet this third criteria). 2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(4) and 11 CFR 100.5(e)(3).
Knowing whether a political committee is a multicandidate committee is important because multicandidate committees have different contribution limits than non-multicandidate committees. A committee that does not have multicandidate status may give up to $2,300 per election to a candidate committee, $28,500 per year to a national party committee, $10,000 per year to state, district and local party committees (a single $10,000 limit is shared by all of a party’s affiliated committees within a given state) and $5,000 per year to any other political committee. For non-multicandidate committees, the contribution limits for candidates and national party committees are indexed for inflation each election cycle. 11 CFR 110.1.
Multicandidate committees, on the other hand, may give up to $5,000 per election to a candidate committee, but may give only $15,000 per year to national party committees and $5,000 per year to other political committees, including state, district and local party committees (again, a single limit is shared by all of a party’s committees within a given state). 11 CFR 110.2. Unlike contribution limits for nonmulticandidate committees, these limits are not indexed for inflation.
Under FEC regulations, a political committee automatically becomes a multicandidate committee when it meets the three criteria described above, and must certify its status within 10 calendar days of having met the criteria by filing FEC Form 1M. 11 CFR 102.2(a)(3).¹ In addition, a political committee that becomes affiliated with a committee that already has multicandidate status automatically becomes a multicandidate committee itself, and must file FEC Form 1M and follow the contribution limits for a multicandidate committee. 11 CFR 110.2(a)(1). A political committee’s failure to certify its multicandidate status by filing FEC Form 1M will result in a violation of the registration requirements at 2 U.S.C. §433(c). Failing to certify multicandidate status will not result in an excessive contribution so long as the amount is within the contribution limits for multicandidate committees.
When making contributions to candidates, a multicandidate committee must give the recipient candidate or campaign committee a written notification that it has qualified as a multicandidate committee. 11 CFR 110.2(a)(2). For convenience, the statement may be pre-printed on the committee’s checks, letterhead or other appropriate materials.
¹ Committees that notified the Commission of their multicandidate status on Form 3X prior to January 1, 1994, do not have to file Form 1M.