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FEC approves advisory opinion, presents examples of Internet disclaimers to inform comments on NPRM

May 10, 2018

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission today approved an advisory opinion and discussed a set of illustrative examples of disclaimers for certain internet communications in connection with the comment period for a pending Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. The Commission also discussed a second advisory opinion request.

Advisory Opinion 2018-06 (Liuba for Congress). The Commission voted to approve an advisory opinion in response to a request from Liuba for Congress (the Committee). The Commission concluded that the Committee may use campaign funds to pay for child care expenses incurred for the care of a federal candidate’s minor children, to the extent those expenses are incurred as a direct result of the candidate’s campaign activities, because such expenses would not exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign. During the discussion, the Commission heard from the requestor.

Advisory Opinion Request 2018-04 (Conservative Primary LLC). The Commission discussed and voted on two drafts of an advisory opinion in response to a request from Conservative Primary LLC. Both drafts conclude some of the ads proposed in the request would be independent expenditures and one or more of the other ads would be electioneering communications under certain circumstances; that the ads may contain links to candidate websites; and that Conservative Primary’s customers would not constitute a political committee.  The drafts differ in their responses to the remaining questions, concerning whether customers’ payments to Conservative Primary would be contributions and whether Conservative Primary would constitute a political committee.  The Commission was unable to approve either draft by the required four affirmative votes, but instructed the Office of General Counsel to circulate a draft advisory opinion that would respond to the requestor’s questions on which there is agreement among the Commissioners.

Internet Communication Disclaimers Illustrative Examples. The Commission discussed a set of illustrative examples of Internet disclaimers, applying proposals in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on REG 2011-02 (Internet Communication Disclaimers) to sample internet ads. The Commission, without objection, asked that the examples be placed on the Commission’s website for members of the public to consider when submitting comments on the rulemaking.  In the NPRM, the Commission requests comment on two alternative proposals to amend its regulations concerning disclaimers on certain communications on the internet that contain express advocacy, solicit contributions, or are made by political committees. Comments must be submitted on or before May 25, 2018. The Commission will hold a public hearing on this notice on June 27, 2018.

At the open meeting, Chair Caroline C. Hunter recognized the efforts of numerous Commission staff who facilitated the Commission’s move to its new location in the NoMa district of Washington, D.C.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

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