Does a recent Federal Election Commission (FEC) advisory opinion request point to the next generation of fundraising structure for campaigns, political committees, and issue advocacy groups? We have already seen Super PACs join together to take advantage of the joint fundraising committee (JFC) structure. Now, American Future Fund (AFF) and American Future Fund Political Action (AFFPA) propose allowing donors to give to a JFC that would divide the donations among candidate campaign committees, Super PACs, and 501(c)(4) issue advocacy organizations.
The AFF/AFFPA proposal faces a number of challenges. The FEC will need to consider how the proposed JFC structure would operate under the coordination rules, McCain-Feingold’s restrictions on candidates soliciting non-federal funds, as well as issues related to administrative matters, and the management of the flow of funds. For practitioners, there is also the issue of the tax treatment of the entity. However, at its core, the AFF/AFFPA request is neither surprising nor clearly unworkable, though much would depend on carefully-worded operational policies and disclaimers. The request also provides the FEC with multiple alternatives to consider, so even if the FEC ultimately determines that a JFC cannot serve a campaign committee, a Super PAC, and a 501(c)(4) all at the same time, it may nonetheless expand the permissible scope of JFC fundraising.
Regardless of the outcome of the decision, any person contemplating the formation of, or a donation to, a JFC should become familiar with how a contribution will be distributed and resulting implications for biennial contribution limits, candidate or PAC contribution limits, and pay-to-play rules.