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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2019-01: PAC may accept contributions earmarked for candidates who receive endorsement of a specified organization

April 2, 2019

It Starts Today, a nonconnected political committee, may establish nominee and presumptive nominee funds that would accept contributions earmarked for candidates who receive the public endorsement of a specified endorsing organization.

Background

It Starts Today (Committee) acts as an intermediary for earmarked contributions to specific candidates. Currently, the Committee offers “nominee funds” for as-yet unidentified Democratic nominees for Congress and “presumptive nominee funds” for the eventual Democratic nominee for President.

The Committee plans new forms of these funds–“Endorsement Conditioned Nominee Funds” and “Endorsement Conditioned Presumptive Nominee Funds.” Contributions to both types of funds would be conditioned on the nominee or presumptive nominee also receiving a public endorsement by a specific “endorsing organization” no later than a specified date.

For each solicitation, the Committee would select a single endorsing organization. The solicitation would disclose both the identity of the endorsing organization and the condition that the Committee would only forward the contribution to the nominee or presumptive nominee if they received a public endorsement from the endorsing organization by a specified date. The solicitation would also identify a default recipient to whom the contribution would be forwarded if the conditions were not met.

Analysis

The Commission has previously concluded that an intermediary may accept conditional contributions on behalf of an as-yet unidentified candidate under the following conditions:

  1. The funds were disbursed after triggering an objective, easily determinable condition outside the control of the intermediary;
  2. The intermediary specified a date certain by which the condition must be met;
  3. The intermediary would refund or otherwise lawfully distribute the funds if the triggering condition was not met; and
  4. The intermediary clearly communicated all of the information in the first three conditions to contributors.

The Commission concluded that the Committee’s proposal meets all four of these conditions. First, the criterion of a public endorsement by an endorsing organization is an objective, easily determinable condition outside the Committee’s control. The Committee would identify a single endorsing organization in the solicitation and not have any role in the endorsement process. Second, the Committee would specify a date by which the candidate must meet the criteria. Third, the Committee would distribute funds to a default recipient if the triggering conditions were not met. Finally, the Committee would clearly disclose the above information to contributors in the solicitation. Therefore, the proposed endorsement conditioned nominee and presumptive nominee funds are consistent with the Federal Election Campaign Act and Commission regulations.

Date issued: March 28, 2019; Length: 5 pages

Citations

Regulations:

11 CFR 110.6
Earmarked contributions

Resources

  • Author 
    • Paul Stoetzer
    • Communications Specialist