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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2015-07: Payment for food, beverages and valet parking at campaign events

October 9, 2015

Attendees at a campaign event may pay for their own food, beverages and valet parking without making in-kind contributions to the committee.


Hillary for America (the “committee”) is the principal campaign committee for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. The committee would like to hold campaign events at restaurants, hotels and other venues where food and beverages may be offered to attendees, and at museums, private homes, and other locations where valet parking services may be offered. Any such services would be offered independent of the campaign--the committee will not request or pay for any of the services--but the committee expects event attendees may choose to pay for them on their own.

Hillary for America asks if attendees may pay for their own food, beverages and valet parking services at these events without the payments resulting in in-kind contributions to the committee.


Under the Federal Election Campaign Act and Commission regulations, a contribution includes any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office. 52 U.S.C. § 30101(8)(A)(i); 11 CFR 100.52(a). “Anything of value” includes all in-kind contributions as well as the entire amount paid to attend a fundraiser or other political event. 52 U.S.C. § 30101(8)(A)(i); 11 CFR 100.52(a), (d); 11 CFR 100.53.

In previous advisory opinions, the Commission concluded that payments for food and beverage expenses for a committee’s event by anyone other than the committee would result in an in-kind contribution. See AOs 1980-63 (Wirth); 1980-89 (Coelho). Similarly, if a committee provides food and beverages at an event, and an attendee reimburses or defrays the committee’s costs for the food and beverages, the attendee would make an in-kind contribution to the committee. See AO 2007-22 (Hurysz). If costs for food and beverages are included in the charge to attend an event, any payment of that charge would result in a contribution. See 11 CFR 100.53.

Hillary for America’s request differs from those precedents because the committee does not plan to provide food or beverages at its planned events. Therefore, attendees would not be reimbursing or defraying any costs that the committee would otherwise incur. Also, these costs would not be included in the charge to attend the event, so an attendee’s payment for his or her own food and beverage would not result in a contribution to the committee. However, the Commission pointed out that its conclusion assumes that the attendees’ choice to purchase food and beverages at the event will not affect the committee’s costs for the event. That is, the committee will not receive any discounts based on attendees’ purchases, nor will it be obligated to pay a minimum charge if attendees do not make a purchase.

The Commission also approved an attendee’s payment for valet parking services under the same analysis.

Date issued: 10/1/2015; 5 pages


  • Author 
    • Zainab Smith
    • Communications Specialist