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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2007-08: Encouraging voluntary performances by professional entertainers at campaign events

September 1, 2007

Michael King may make donations to charitable organizations and establish a 501(c)(3) charitable organization (the Foundation) in order to encourage voluntary performances by professional entertainers at federal campaign events. Mr. King and the Foundation may also promote these activities through their own web sites, and Mr. King may solicit the authorized committees of federal candidates for donations to his section 501(c)(3) organization.


Mr. King intends to promote the public’s knowledge of charitable organizations that provide assistance to families of military personnel and encourage greater volunteer participation in federal campaigns by musicians and other entertainers. Mr. King wishes to donate his personal funds to such charitable organizations to recognize voluntary performances by entertainers at campaign events of federal candidates or political party committees. In addition to making donations to already-established charities, Mr. King will also establish the Foundation to collect and distribute donations from other persons for the same purposes. Mr. King or his foundation will determine which charities will receive donations.

The performers who elect to perform at campaign events will do so as volunteers and will not receive any tax or other financial benefit by doing so. They will choose the events at which they perform. All costs associated with the performances will be paid by the federal candidate or party committee hosting the event.


The Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) defines “contribution” to include, among other things, “the payment by any person of compensation for the personal services of another person which are rendered to a political committee without charge for any purpose.” 2 U.S.C. §431(8)(A)(ii); see also 11 CFR 100.54.

However, the Act allows individuals to volunteer without compensation on behalf of a candidate or political committee without making a contribution to that candidate or committee. 11 CFR 100.74. Since both Mr. King and the entertainers will offer their services without compensation, and the candidate or party committee will pay for the costs of the event, neither Mr. King nor the performers would be making a contribution through their volunteer activities. Furthermore, the Commission concluded that Mr. King’s charitable donations do not constitute contributions to the candidates or party committees.

The Act also defines “expenditure” to include, among other things, “any gift of money or anything of value, made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for federal office.” 11 CFR 100.111(a). Since Mr. King’s proposed charitable donations do not act as an incentive to any person to vote for or against a federal candidate, nor do they encourage a person to make contributions to or expenditures on behalf of a federal candidate, Mr. King’s activities do not qualify as expenditures.

The Commission also concluded that Mr. King may solicit the authorized committee of federal candidates for donations to section 501(c)(3) organizations, described above. The Act and Commission regulations permit federal candidates to donate campaign funds to charitable organizations. 2 U.S.C. §439a(a) and 11 CFR 113.2(b).

Mr. King is also permitted to publicize his activities through his web site, since the Act permits individuals to engage in volunteer Internet activity without making a contribution or expenditure. 11 CFR 100.94 and 100.155. Specifically, Mr. King and the Foundation may engage in the following activities without making contributions or expenditures: listing the work done by the charity, naming the volunteers and committees for which they volunteered and listing the charitable donations made on those committees’ behalf.

Date: July 12, 2007; Length: 12 pages