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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2016-07: United National Committee does not qualify as a national party committee

July 18, 2016

The United National Committee, a political committee of the Unity Party of America, does not qualify as a national committee of a political party because, as a threshold matter, it has not placed a federal candidate on the ballot. Although a nominee of the Unity Party appeared on the ballot in Colorado for election to the United States Senate in 2014, the nominee did not meet the definition of a candidate under the Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act).

The United National Committee is the governing body of the Unity Party of America, which has nominated individuals for federal office. Bill Hammons was the Unity Party nominee in 2014 for U.S. Senate from Colorado and appeared on the 2014 general election ballot. However, neither Mr. Hammons, nor any other person nominated by the Unity Party, has raised or spent more than $5,000 in connection with their campaign for election to federal office.

Legal Analysis
The Act defines a national committee of a political party as “the organization which, by virtue of the bylaws of a political party, is responsible for the day-to-day operation of such political party at the national level, as determined by the Commission.” 52 U.S.C. § 30101(14).

The Act defines a political party as “an organization which nominates a candidate for election to any Federal office whose name appears on the election ballot as the candidate of such…organization.” 52 U.S.C. § 30101(16). Therefore, to be considered a “political party” for purposes of the Act, an organization must first place a federal candidate on a ballot under that organization’s name. The Act defines a federal candidate as an individual who has received contributions or made expenditures in excess of $5,000. 52 U.S.C. § 30101(2)(A).

Although Mr. Hammons appeared on the Colorado general election ballot in 2014 as the nominee of the Unity Party of Colorado for the U.S. Senate, he did not qualify as a "candidate" under the Act because he did not cross the $5,000 threshold for either contributions received or expenditures made in connection with his campaign. Thus, the Commission concluded that since the Unity Party has not placed any individual who has qualified as a federal candidate under the Act on a ballot, the United National Committee does not qualify as a national committee of a political party. See AO 1996-35 (Greens/Green Party USA) and AO 2013-01 (1787 National Committee).

Date Issued: July 14, 2016; Length: 3 pages.