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Interpretative Opinion 2018-01

Interpretative Opinion 2018-01

March 12, 2018

VIA E-MAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL

R. Dinan, Esq.

221 9th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20003

Re: Contribution Limits for a slate

Dear Mr. Dinan:

This responds to your request for an opinion regarding the following issues:

Whether the $200.00 contribution limit for candidates for an official of a political party applies to candidates who are members of a slate or does the $200.00 contribution limit apply to the entire slate;

Whether members of a slate may receive individual contributions of $200.00 each from a donor who makes multiple contributions; and

Whether the $5,000.00 contribution limit a donor may contribute to a Political Committee applies to contributions to a slate.

D.C. Official Code §1-1163.33 (a) states that: “No person, including a business contributor, may make any contribution which, and no person shall receive any contribution from any contributor, that when aggregated with all other contributions received from that contributor relating to a campaign for nomination as a candidate or election to public office, including both the primary and general election or special election, exceeds:

(1) In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for Mayor or for the recall of the Mayor, $2,000;

(2) In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for Chairman of the Council or for the recall of the Chairman of the Council, $1,500;

(3) In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for member of the Council elected at-large or for the recall of a member of the Council elected at-large, $1,000;

(4) In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for member of the State Board of Education elected at-large or for a member of the Council elected from a ward or for the recall of a member of the State Board of Education elected at-large or for the recall of a member of the Council elected from a ward, $500;

(5) In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for member of the State Board of Education elected from an election ward or for the recall of a member of the state Board of Education elected from an election ward or for the recall of a member of the State Board of Education elected from an election ward or for an official of a political party, $200; and

In the case of a contribution in support of a candidate for member of an Advisory Neighborhood Commission, $25.

While the above noted statutory provisions do not specifically address contributions to slates, it is apparent that the activity of a slate would be difficult to distinguish from the activity of candidates who are members of a slate in view of the fact that contributions received by a slate are intended to benefit member candidates. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that the contribution limit of $200.00 that applies to candidates for an official of a political party also applies to contributions designated for a slate.

Nonetheless, members of slates are also eligible to receive individual contributions which do not exceed $200.00 from donors who also contribute to a slate in which the candidate is a member as long as the aggregate contribution to each candidate does not exceed $200.00. In the event that a contributor makes a contribution to a slate that exceeds $200.00 the distribution of the contribution to individual candidates must be clearly stated by the contributor.

3DCMR §3011.5 states in pertinent part that: “For purposes of the contribution limitations of this section, expenditures for candidates for office shall not be considered contributions or expenditures by or on behalf of a candidate when derived from:

Personal funds belonging to candidates…”

Thus, candidates who are members of a slate are not restricted to contribution limits when using their personal funds for campaign purposes. However, in cases in which a single instrument is submitted for multiple contributions to members of a slate, the $200 contribution limit which applies to contributions directly to candidates would similarly apply to contributions to a slate unless the contributor attaches an itemized listing of the individual candidates and the amount designated for each candidate

D.C. Official Code §1-1163.33 (f) states that: “No person may make contributions to any one political committee or political action committee in any one election, including

primary and general elections, but excluding special elections, that the aggregate exceeds $5,000”.

Consequently the aggregate amount one contributor may contribute to a slate when the distribution of the funds has been itemized in order to comply with the maximum limit of $200 per candidate is $5,000.

The foregoing is an Interpretative Opinion of the Director of the Office of Campaign Finance. Pursuant to D.C. Official Code §1-1163.06, you are entitled to request an Advisory Opinion from the Board of Elections on this transaction or activity.

Should you have any additional questions, please contact William O. SanFord, General Counsel, at (202) 671-0550.