ocf

Office of Campaign Finance
 

DC Agency Top Menu

The Office of Campaign Finance is currently open to visitors by appointment only. Visitors should call (202) 671-0551 or email [email protected] to schedule an appointment.

 
-A +A
Bookmark and Share

Interpretative Opinion 2018-03

Interpretative Opinion 2018-03

August 27, 2018

VIA E-MAIL AND FIRST-CLASS MAIL

John Zottoli

3025 Ontario Road, NW

Apt #504

Washington, D.C. 20009

Re: Independent Expenditure Committee

Dear Mr. Zottoli:

This responds to your request for an opinion regarding whether an Independent Expenditure committee may engage in the following activity:

Redistribute information that a principal campaign committee makes available to the public;

Encourage members of the public to visit a principal campaign committee’s internet or social media sites:

Encourage the public to attend events announced by a principal campaign committee; and

Encourage the public to utilize a principal campaign committee’s internet or social media sites to volunteer to work for a candidate.

D.C. Official Code §1-1161.01(28A) states in pertinent part that: “Independent expenditure means an expenditure that is:

Made for the principal purpose of promoting or opposing:

The nomination of a candidate;

Any initiative, referendum, or recall

Not controlled by or coordinated with:

Any public official or candidate; or

Any person acting on behalf of a public official or candidate.

D.C. Official Code §1-1161.01(28B) states in pertinent part that: “Independent expenditure committee means any committee, club, association, organization, or other group of individuals that:

Is organized for the principal purpose of making independent expenditures;

(B) Is not controlled by or coordinated with:

(i) Any public official or candidate; or

(ii) Any person acting on behalf of a public official or candidate; and

(C) Makes no transfer or contributions of funds to:

(i) Political committees; or

(ii) Political action committees, or

(iii) Candidates

Based upon the information you have provided, the Independent expenditure committee you described intends to rely on a principal campaign committee (PCC) for guidance and supplement its activity by redistributing information, promoting the PCC’s social media sites and events and recruiting volunteers to work for the PCC. This appears contrary to the fact that an Independent expenditure committee is required to engage in activity that is clearly autonomous from any candidate or PCC. While you have not indicated that the Independent expenditure committee will directly request instructions from the PCC, it is apparent that the Independent expenditure committee would in essence follow the lead of the PCC which may easily be interpreted as a coordinated endeavor.

D.C. Official Code §1-1161.01(10B) states in pertinent part that: “Coordinate or coordination means to take an action, including making an expenditure:

(A) At the request or suggestion of a candidate or public official, a political committee affiliated with a candidate or public official, or an agent of a candidate or public official or of a political committee affiliated with the candidate or public official; or

(B) With the material involvement of a candidate or public official, a political committee affiliated with a candidate or public official, or an agent of a candidate or public official or of a political committee affiliated with a candidate or public official.”

Accordingly, it would not be advisable for an Independent expenditure committee to engage in any of the activity noted in your inquiry because every action contemplated emanates from activity the PCC has already commenced. Therefore, the Independent expenditure committee would appear to serve as merely an extension of the PCC.

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.