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Interpretative Opinion 98-04: Contribution Limitations

September 10, 1998

Mr. Robert A. Singer
1000 Potomac Street, NW
Washington, DC  20007

Re: Contribution Limitations

Dear Mr. Singer:

This responds to your request for a [written] opinion concerning the contribution limitations applicable to corporations that are partners in a partnership, as well as those applicable to a Trust.  Specifically, you inquire whether you may make a contribution of the maximum amount allowable by law to a mayoral candidate, or $2,000, in your individual capacity, as well as [through] your Subchapter S corporation, which is a partner in a Limited Partnership.  Secondly, you ask whether a contribution of $2,000 made in your individual capacity to a mayoral candidate would affect another contribution from a Trust, of which you are a Trustee and a 50% beneficiary.

DC Code §§ 1-1441.1 and 1-1441.1(a)(1) state, in pertinent part, “[n]o person shall make any contribution which, . . ., when aggregated with all other contributions received from that person, . . . exceeds: [i]n the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for Mayor . . ., $2,000.”  For purposes of delineating permissible sources of campaign contributions to candidates for elective office in the District of Columbia, DC Code § 1-1401(8) defines the term, “person”, to mean “an individual, partnership, committee, corporation, labor organization, and any other organization” (emphasis added).  Further, as you are probably aware, a Subchapter S corporation is a small business corporation that has a separate legal identity from its incorporators, and possesses all of the characteristics of a corporate entity.

DC Code § 1-1441.2 (a), as implemented by 3 DCM.R. §3011,  provides that contributions by partnerships shall be subject to the contribution limitations, and attributed to each partner according to instructions from the partnership, or by agreement of  the partners.  While a corporation may contribute to candidates in the District of Columbia, there are certain restrictions where a corporation is a partner in a partnership.  Pursuant to DC Code § 1-1442(b), “[n]o portion of such contribution may be made from the profits of a corporation that is a partner.”  Consequently, you may  contribute  $2,000  to  a  mayoral  candidate  as  an  individual; however, your Subchapter S corporation is restricted from making a contribution to the candidate from its corporate profits,  where the corporation is a member of a partnership.

With respect to your second issue, a contribution may be made from a Trust as long as the attribution can be made to a person, and the contribution, when aggregated with all other contributions by that person, does not exceed the contribution limitations prescribed by law.  Therefore, if you contribute $2,000 to a mayoral candidate in your individual capacity, you would not be permitted to make an additional contribution from the Trust in your name without exceeding the contribution limitations.  However, a contribution from the Trust may be made from the other beneficiary, provided that the contribution, when aggregated with all other contributions from such beneficiary, does not exceed the limits imposed by law. [See Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinions, AO 1978-7: Contributions from Deceased Partners; AO 1988-8: Excessive Contribution from Decedent’s Estate; and AO 1996-3].