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Interpretative Opinion 00-02: Volunteer Services

July 10, 2000

Lisa A. Spells, President and CEO
L.A.S. Therapy Network
767 Quince Orchard Boulevard
Suite 13
Gaithersburg, Maryland  20878-1669

Re: Volunteer Services and In-Kind Contributions

Dear Ms. Spells:

This responds to your request for an opinion concerning a promotional campaign videotape sponsored by L.A.S. Therapy II, utilizing Gallaudet University student interns, for production on behalf of the Brazil 2000 Campaign.  You state that video footage will involve certain locations and individuals including One Judiciary Square (441-4th Street, NW, Suite 702), the Councilmember’s campaign office location, Government staff members of the Councilmember as well as his campaign staff.  You further state that no government employees will receive funds [from participation in the video], no government funds will be expended, and no campaign contributions will be accepted for the project.  Moreover, you represented orally that you will waive your fee for services, and that the radio and television media students will not be paid from campaign funds.

First, the particulars of the video footage are not within the purview of the District of Columbia Campaign Finance Reform and Conflict of Interest Act, as amended.  Therefore, we render no opinion in this regard.

  DC Code § 1-1401(B)(i ) provides the term, “contribution” shall not be construed to include: “ . . . [s]ervices provided without compensation, by individuals (including accountants and attorneys) volunteering a portion or all of their time on behalf of a candidate or political committee . . .” (emphasis added).  Therefore, your donation of professional services is excepted from the contribution limits otherwise attributable to the regular and customary value of those services, and are not required to be reported as a campaign contribution.
  As a corollary, if the students are volunteering their services to the project, there is no reporting requirement.  However, if the students are being paid a stipend, or any other form of compensation to work on the project, such compensation is a reportable campaign contribution by the compensating entity, and subject to the contribution limitations.

Notwithstanding, DC Code § 1-1401(6)(A)(iv) defines the term, “contribution” as “ . . . the furnishing of goods, advertising, or services to a candidate’s campaign without charge, . . .”.  DC Code § 1-1441.1(a)(3) states in pertinent part, “[n]o person shall make any contribution which, . . . exceeds:  [i ]n the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for member of the Council elected at-large, $1,000.”

Further, pursuant to 30 DCMR § 3008.4, “[a]ll receipts for contributions including in-kind contributions, . . . shall be itemized and reported on Schedule B in accordance with the instructions for preparing the R&E Report.”  Moreover,   “[i ]n-kind contributions shall be assessed at the current local fair market value at the time of the contribution.”  30 DCMR § 3008.9.  Consequently, the value of the materials used to produce the video (i.e., the film and any related incidentals) should not exceed $1,000 in value, and are reportable to the Office of Campaign Finance (OCF) by the campaign committee.