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Inside Political Law Updates on developments in campaign finance, lobbying & government ethics law

Disclosure Rules for Electioneering Communications — the FEC Provides Guidance

Posted in Campaign Finance

Today, the FEC issued a formal statement on the impact of the D.C. District Court’s decision this spring in Van Hollen v. FEC.  The conclusion — the disclosure regulations are to be applied as originally written, and the agency will employ common sense definitions of several terms.

As a result of the court decision (which is effective while being appealed), any person that airs an electioneering communication must disclose donors who gave in excess of $1,000 since January 1, 2011.  That disclosure is either of all donors (if general treasury funds are used), or only donors to a segregated fund used for electioneering communications (if the person has such an account and used it to fund the ad).  No surprise here, given the court’s decision and the way the statute and regulations are written.  

The FEC also provided a common sense definition of which “donors” must be disclosed.  It excludes members who pay routine membership dues, investors, and customers who pay for goods or services.  So this provides some clarity to the law, but is unlikely to change the strategic thinking of many active in the world of 501(c)(4)s.