August 26, 2011
Joseph L. Askew, Jr., Esquire
Vice President – Government Relations
Verizon Washington, DC
1300 Eye Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005
Dear Mr. Askew:
This is in response to your request dated August 3, 2011, for an Interpretative Opinion regarding the following two questions:
(1) Can a Political Action Committee (PAC) give to a non-PAC to support a legislative forum sponsored by the women’s bar association or purchase a ticket to the United Way Gala given that it is supportive of its causes and as a means to bring positive attention to the PAC; and
(2) Are there restrictions on independent expenditures i.e. purpose and amount.
Title 3 §3000.5 provides that “An unauthorized committee shall be any political committee which has not been designated by a candidate on the statement of candidacy form, filed pursuant to §3006.1, to solicit or received contributions or make expenditures on behalf of a candidate seeking office, and it shall not include the name of any candidate for elective office in the District of Columbia in its name.”
Even though PAC’s are unauthorized committees they must adhere to the expenditure and reporting requirements set forth in D. C. Official Code §1-1102.06(b)(9) which provides that each report shall disclose; ” The full name and mailing address (including the occupation and the principal place of business, if any) of each person to whom expenditures have been made by such committee or on behalf of such committee or candidate within the calendar year in an aggregate amount or value of $10 or more, the amount, date, and purpose of each such expenditure and the name and address of, and office sought by each candidate on whose behalf such expenditure was made. “
In addition, D.C. Official Code §1-1102.06 (b) (10) provides that reports should also include; “The total sum of expenditures made by such committee or candidate.” Thus, there is no prohibition on a PAC giving to a non-PAC as long as the non-PAC is included in the Report of Receipts and Expenditures as recipient of PAC funds.
With regard to your second question, D.C. Official Code §1-1131.01(f) provides that “Any expenditure made by any person advocating the election or defeat of any candidate for office which is not made at the request or suggestion of the candidate, any agent or the candidate, or any political committee authorized by the candidate to make expenditures or receive contributions for the candidate is not considered a contribution to or an expenditure by or on behalf of the candidate for purposes of the limitations specified in this subchapter.”
Therefore, although the purpose of an independent expenditure is to advocate either the election or defeat of a candidate for elective office without any coordination with the candidate there are no restrictions on the amount that can be independently expended.
The foregoing is an Interpretative Opinion of the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to D.C. Official Code Section 1-1103.05, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections and Ethics on this transaction or activity.
Should you have any further questions, please contact William O. SanFord, the General Counsel for the Office of Campaign Finance at (202) 671-0549.