Return to News Mar 26, 2024

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Elias Law Group

RE: Federal Election Commission Issues Advisory Opinion Regarding Paid Canvassing

Last week, the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) issued an important advisory opinion regarding paid canvassing programs that advocate for federal candidates. Texas Majority PAC, a state PAC represented by the Elias Law Group, told the FEC that it would consult with federal candidates, party committees, and their agents on its paid canvassing program, and asked whether doing so would transform its paid canvassing communications into “coordinated communications” or “coordinated expenditures” (thereby making them excessive in-kind contributions). As a Texas state PAC, Texas Majority PAC raises unlimited non-corporate, non-labor treasury funds. The FEC confirmed that such paid canvassing communications are not “coordinated communications” or “coordinated expenditures” and therefore are not in-kind contributions to the federal candidate or party committee.

Candidates, political parties, and organizations that engage in paid canvassing should confer with counsel to discuss how the opinion affects their planned programs. Texas Majority PAC included important safeguards in its proposal to comply with other aspects of federal campaign finance law, which must be understood by any organization seeking to rely on the opinion. Moreover, any program must comply with the following:

  • Federal candidates and national party committees are still barred from soliciting or accepting any “soft money;”
  • Federal candidates and national party committees are still barred from spending any “soft money” or controlling any organization that does;
  • Organizations that wish to coordinate their paid canvassing programs with candidates and party committees, within the parameters of the opinion and that also sponsor paid communications (TV, radio, digital, mail, etc.) referring to federal candidates or political parties, must establish an internal firewall policy to protect the independence of their non-canvassing work; and
  • The FEC confirmed that any data that is collected by an organization as part of a paid canvassing program is a thing of value that may constitute a contribution when provided to another entity, subject to contribution limits.

We look forward to discussing this opinion with you and how it affects your planned activities.