Attached to this summary is a detailed outline for local party operations
under the new campaign finance law. In summary, state and local party
committees should be mindful of the following do’s and don’ts:
Local party committees not-registered with the FEC:
County Parties can:
1) Contribute up to $1,000, in the aggregate, to all federal candidates
and federal accounts of other party and political committees. These
contributions are not aggregated with the state party’s federal
2) Spend up to $5,000 on the federal portion of “exempt activities.”
1) Slate Cards
2) Volunteer Materials
3) Volunteer Presidential Phone Banks
3) Raise up to $5,000 in contributions earmarked for federal
expenditures. Contributions that raised by utilizing the name of a
federal candidate are presumed to be federal contributions unless
specific notice is given otherwise.
All federal expenditures described above must be paid for with federally
permissible funds. Therefore, there must be enough contributions in the
committee’s accounts from individuals or other federal committees at the
time the expenditure or contribution is made.
Pay for certain “federal election activities” (such as voter registration,
voter identification, get-out-the-vote activities and other generic
activities that do not mention federal candidates) partially with federally
permissible funds and partially with “Levin funds” (The first $10,000 of
contributions accepted by a local committee consistent with state law).
Merely spending such funds on these “federal election activities” do not
count against any of the federal registration thresholds discussed above
and will not, in and of themselves, require a local party committee to
register with the FEC.
A local committee should not make any public communication that “expressly
advocates” the election or defeat of a federal candidate or that is
coordinated with a federal candidate without checking with the state party
as to whether such expenditures are permissible.
Once county party committee does qualify as a federal committee it must:
1) Open federal account and deposit federal contributions into it.
2) Pay for all administrative, generic, federal fundraising and direct
candidate support expenditures with an appropriate split of federal
and non-federal dollars.
3) If the local committee is affiliated with the state party, all federal
contributions received are aggregated with $10,000 federal
contribution limit to the state party and other affiliated, federally
registered local committees within the state.
4) Contribution limits to federal candidates are shared with the state
5) Pay for all administrative and other federal activities directly from
its federal account (except for certain payroll expenses as described
in the outline).
6) File periodic reports with the FEC.
A local party committee should not:
1) Purchase any public advertising (TV, radio, newspaper, billboards) or
undertake any other public communication (ie. Mail or phones) (TV,
radio, newspaper, billboards) that feature a candidate for federal
office without prior consultation with the state party.
2) Coordinate its activities with a federal candidate without prior
consultation with the state party.
3) Coordinate its activities with non-party groups that make public
communications on behalf of the party or its candidates.
4) Accept a contribution from any prohibited source, including foreign
5) Spend in excess of $1,000 on contributions or expenditures (including
independent expenditures) on behalf of federal candidates without
registering with the FEC.
6) Solicit funds or make any contributions to any not-for-profit
organization or state PAC that undertakes any type of get-out-the-vote
or voter registration programs.
7) (If not registered with FEC) represent to donors that contributions
will be used in connection with federal elections (if funds raised in
this fashion exceed $5,000 it will trigger federal registration).
8) (If registered with FEC). Contribute to a federal candidate (cash or
in-kind) without consulting with the State Party.
9) (If registered with the FEC) Deposit large federal contributions into
its federal account without consulting with the State Party.
For a detailed discussion of each of these issues, please consult the
attached outline prepared by Joe Sandler and Neil Reiff, of Sandler, Reiff
& Young, PC. Joe and Neil are the General Counsel to the DNC and serve as
special counsel to several state party committees.