On October 4, 2011, the Commission published in the Federal Register an Interpretive Rule addressing when independent expenditure communications taking the form of mini-billboards, yard signs, handbills, hats, buttons and similar items are considered “publicly disseminated” for reporting purposes.
The actual public dissemination date of independent expenditures that take the form of signs, handbills, t-shirts, hats, buttons and similar items is difficult to establish in situations where the items are disseminated in stages or where items are purchased from a vendor and then retained for a period of time before being disseminated to affiliate or member organizations, or to individuals such as employees or volunteers to wear or display in public. For this reason, the Commission has clarified a range of acceptable dates that may be used as the public dissemination date for these forms of independent expenditure communications by individuals and organizations required to report independent expenditures (“filers”). See 11 CFR 104.4(b)(2), (c), and (f), and 109.10(c) and (d).
The Commission has determined that filers may report the independent expenditure communications mentioned above as “publicly disseminated” on any “reasonable date” starting with the date the filer receives or exercises control over the items in the usual and normal course of dissemination, up to the date that the communications are actually disseminated to the public. “Reasonable dates” include, but are not limited to:
- The date that a filer receives delivery of the communication;
- The date that the filer distributes the communication to members or employees for later public dissemination;
- The date the filer distributes the communication to affiliate or member organizations for later public dissemination;
- The date as of which the filer authorizes employees or members to display the communication; or
- The date of actual public dissemination, if that date is known to the filer.
In no event may a filer choose a date that is later than the actual date of dissemination. Likewise, a filer may not choose a date after the date of the election to which the independent expenditure pertains.
Date effective: October 4, 2011