FEC Rules And Volunteers

Dear Group,

Have you ever felt uneasy about working with a political candidate or political party for fear you might be breaking some arcane campaign finance rule? I have. Digging around the Federal Elections Commission website FEC.gov wasn’t a lot of help at first, but then I found a link there to  https://www.youtube.com/user/FECTube. It is a trove in nicely explained information. I haven’t digested more than a fraction of it so far. The video above answered a lot of questions I had.

First, remember these are the FEDERAL (Federal Elections Commission, FEC) rules, not the Washington State rules. The state rules are somewhat different and we’re not dealing with them today.

I got to thinking about this because I know a lot of people who are donating time and effort to political campaigns. It is clear to me that the monetary advantages of a Republican incumbent can only be overcome with “boots on the ground” AND money. I’m delighted to see the ranks swelling every day, folks knocking on doors, talking to neighbors, planting signs…and friends with Republican leanings acknowledging it is time for a change….

I urge you to watch the video above, but the short take is this:

  • The volunteering of all personal services, as long as one receives no compensation in return, is NOT considered a campaign contribution. So writing a blog, canvassing, training others, or hosting an event in one’s home related to a federal candidate or a political party…all that is NOT a campaign contribution. Phew!
  • The use of space in a home, library, church or community center is also NOT a campaign contribution as long as it is a space that a member or citizen can ordinarily use without paying a fee. If there usually IS a fee then that should be reported as a contribution. A discount offered to whatever is the regular fee is also an “in-kind” contribution and should be reported.
  • “Independent Expenditures,” like a billboard not coordinated with a Party or a Campaign have special reporting rules I’d have to study more.

There is always a lot more to learn.

If you want to get out in the nice weather tomorrow as one of those volunteers, there is a canvass in the Perry District from 10A-1PM. Check it out and sign up here.

Back on Monday.

Keep to the high ground,
Jerry