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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2023-11: Hybrid PAC may solicit earmarked contributions to identified leading opponents of incumbent officeholders

February 2, 2024

The Commission determined that contributions received and forwarded by VoteDown PAC, based upon preselected criteria to identify leading opponents to incumbent officeholders, will be considered earmarked contributions attributable only to the original contributor. The PAC may forward the earmarked contributions to a national party committee if the designated candidate is unable or unwilling to accept them.


VoteDown PAC is a hybrid PAC that proposes to serve as a conduit for contributions made to candidates that it identifies as the leading opponents to officeholders.

The committee intends to use objective criteria, including polling average and candidate committee cash-on-hand totals to identify its specified candidates 90 days before the primary or general election. If the criteria fail to identify a leading opponent, or the candidate refuses to accept the contributions, VoteDown PAC will forward the received contributions to either the incumbent’s national party committee in a primary election or the opposing national party committee in a general election.


The Commission concluded that VoteDown PAC’s proposal ensures “that the contributors have ultimate control over their contributions and that the intermediary political committee exercises no direction with regard to the disposition of the conditional funds.” First, VoteDown PAC’s criteria to identify leading opponents are considered easily determinable facts outside its control. Second, the committee has a specified date by which the candidate must meet the criteria before it will forward contributions. Third, the VoteDown PAC’s proposed use of a national party committee to serve as a default recipient for contributions that it cannot forward to a candidate is lawful. Finally, the committee’s solicitations clearly disclose how it will use the contributions it receives.

The Commission concluded that nothing in the Act or Commission regulations prevents VoteDown PAC from retaining income earned as interest from contributions it receives. Credit-card processing fees will count as a contribution to VoteDown PAC, but the remaining funds will be contributions from the original donor to the identified candidate or default recipient.

Date issued: January 25, 2024; Length: 6 pages



11 C.F.R. § 100.52
Gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money

11 C.F.R. § 102.8
Receipt of contributions

11 C.F.R. § 110.6
Earmarked contributions

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  • Author 
    • David Garr
    • Communications Specialist