As noted in Chambers USA (2011), Wiley Rein has “formidable experience in campaign finance and ethics laws.” We assist corporations in following the complex restrictions governing workplace political activity, and advise political committees regarding political action committee (PAC) administration and solicitation issues. We provide counsel concerning restrictions on political activity by foreign national parent corporations, their subsidiaries, officers, and directors. We also provide guidance to corporate personnel on compliance with all of these laws and prepare guidelines for employee handbooks.
In 2010, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which recognized the First Amendment rights of corporations to engage in independent campaign advocacy. We have counseled numerous corporations and trade associations on the compliance burdens that attach to such advocacy.
FEC Advisory Opinions Obtained by Wiley Rein
For more than 25 years, Wiley Rein attorneys have sought and obtained advisory opinions from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on novel and complex issues of federal campaign finance law. The following list includes links to those advisory opinions and describes matters addressed by each.
FEC Advisory Opinion 2010-09: On behalf of Club for Growth, Inc.
- The FEC permitted Club for Growth to establish a political committee in order to engage solely in independent expenditures and to collect unlimited individual and corporate contributions for this purpose.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2009-18: On behalf of Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P., its general partner Penske Truck Leasing Corporation, and its separate segregated fund, Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P. PAC.
- The FEC permitted the disaffiliation of the Penske Truck Leasing Co., LP PAC and the General Electric Company PAC at the time the joint venture, Penske Truck Leasing Co., L.P., was restructured so that the Penske general and limited partners gained majority ownership of the partnership and majority control of the joint venture's management committee.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2009-14: On behalf of Mercedes-Benz USA/Sterling.
- The FEC permitted Sterling Truck Corporation to establish a PAC to be administered by Mercedes-Benz USA LLC and that the name of the PAC could be abbreviated as "Daimler PAC."
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2008-07: On behalf of Sen. David Vitter.
- The FEC permitted limited use of campaign funds to pay for the senator's legal expenses.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2007-33: On behalf of Club for Growth PAC.
- The FEC refused to permit Club for Growth PAC to eliminate or truncate the verbal "stand by your ad" disclaimer on 10- and 15-second television ads even though the entire disclaimer appears on the screen.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2007-15: On behalf of GMAC LLC.
- FEC declined to provide guidance on whether GMAC LLC could use its own resources to pay expenses associated with administering the separate segregated fund (SSF) of its corporate subsidiary, GMAC Insurance Holdings, Inc., but concluded that the SSF may include GMAC LLC in its name and may use GMAC PAC as an abbreviation.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2007-12: On behalf of Tyco International Management Company and its federal PAC.
- The FEC permitted the disaffiliation of the U.S. subsidiaries of two corporations spun off from Tyco International Ltd. (and their PACs) from the U.S. subsidiary of the former parent entity, Tyco International Ltd. (and its PAC). Importantly, the FEC for the first time found disaffiliation at the time of the spin off instead of at a later time.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2007-14: On behalf of the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Federation of Independent Business, and the National Restaurant Association.
- FEC opined that the three trade associations may jointly sponsor a series of telephone conferences featuring presidential candidates for the trade associations' restricted classes, provided that the groups split the cost of the conferences on a pro rata basis determined by restricted class participation, or by some other reasonable method to ensure that each trade association does not subsidize the costs of candidate appearances to a restricted class other than its own.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2006-14: On behalf of the National Restaurant Association's PAC.
- FEC declined to provide guidance on National Restaurant Association PAC plans (1) to communicate to the public to advocate the election of clearly identified candidates and (2) to solicit contributions from the general public earmarked for federal candidates.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2006-18: On behalf of Rep. Kay Granger and the Kay Granger Campaign Fund.
- FEC opined that using campaign fund assets to promote sales of the candidate's children's book would not constitute prohibited personal use of campaign funds where book royalties are donated to charity.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2006-26: On behalf of Texans for Henry Bonilla.
- FEC provided guidance that contribution limits for a special congressional election ordered by a court are separate from the limits applicable to the general election that was cancelled.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2006-33: On behalf of the National Association of Realtors and its separate segregated fund, Realtors Political Action Committee.
- FEC opined that National Association of Realtors' proposed payment of corporate treasury funds to its state affiliates to encourage them to increase their fundraising for RPAC was permissible.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2005-4: On behalf of Rep. John Boehner and Friends of John Boehner.
- FEC specified procedures for transferring to a charity court-ordered restitution payments owed to a campaign committee.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2005-17: On behalf of the American Crystal Sugar Company and the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association, Inc.
- FEC recognized that the association and its PAC are qualified to solicit contributions from specified individuals associated with corporate members of the association.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2004-26: On behalf of Rep. Gerald C. Weller and his fiancée, Zury Rios Sosa.
- FEC particularized the rules under which a foreign-national fiancée of a representative may participate as a non-compensated volunteer in affiliated campaign committees.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2004-33: On behalf of The Ripon Society and Rep. Sue Kelly.
- FEC described ground rules under which an organization exempt under I.R.C. § 501(c)(4) may disseminate a television ad featuring a representative during the time preceding a general election.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2003-3: On behalf of State Sen. Bill Boling, State Delegate Bill Janis, Chesterfield County School Board Member Beth Davis, and Eric Cantor, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- FEC provided guidance on complex questions arising when a federal official, Rep. Cantor, raises funds in connection with a non-federal election.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2003-34: On behalf of Viacom, Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary, Showtime Networks, Inc., and TMD Productions, Inc.
- FEC confirmed that television reality show contestants who participate in a simulated presidential campaign would be exempt from FEC regulation.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2003-39: On behalf of Credit Union National Association, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council of Credit Union National Association, and the North Carolina Local Government Employees' Federal Credit Union.
- FEC confirmed that funds matching contributions to an affiliated PAC that are donated to a charity by a collecting agent will be treated as appropriate solicitation costs of the PAC's connected organization.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2002-11: On behalf of Mortgage Bankers Association of America and the Mortgage Bankers Association of America PAC.
- FEC determined that two PACs were not affiliated, based on its analysis of whether their connected trade associations were affiliated and the conclusion that they were not affiliated.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2001-18: On behalf of BellSouth Corporation and Cingular.
- FEC concluded that the PAC of a corporate joint venture is affiliated with the separate PAC of the joint venture corporate owners and discussed the compliance implications.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2000-11: On behalf of Georgia-Pacific Corporation and its SSF, G-P Employees Fund of Georgia-Pacific.
- FEC confirmed that where collecting agent failed to timely deposit payroll deduction contribution checks in the PAC, new checks may be issued to replace the stale checks.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 2000-15: On behalf of Credit Union National Association, Inc., the New York State Credit Union League, Inc., and the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee, the SSF fund of Credit Union National Association.
- FEC provided guidance that the New York League could solicit its salaried and administrative personnel for contributions to the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee via payroll deduction.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1999-35: On behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., the Associated Builders and Contractors PAC, and ABC North Texas and its chapter nonfederal PAC.
- FEC concluded that the use of an automatic clearinghouse payment system for collecting contributions for a PAC was permitted where contributions are not deducted through a payroll deduction system administered by the employer of the contributing individual.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1999-40: On behalf of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Action Committee for Rural Electrification.
- FEC provided guidance on the ability of the Action Committee for Rural Electrification to solicit the members of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association's distribution member cooperatives and to use the cooperatives' billing systems to collect voluntary contributions.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1998-19: On behalf of the Credit Union National Association, Inc., the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee, the Texas Credit Union League, the Pennsylvania Credit Union League, the San Antonio Telephone Federal Credit Union, and the Patriot Federal Credit Union.
- FEC provided guidance on a Credit Union National Action, Inc. proposal for solicitation and collection of contributions to the Credit Union Legislative Action Committee, known as the "Deduct-A-Buck" program, that would be available to non-corporate credit union members.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1997-2: On behalf of U.S. Reps. David E. Skaggs and Ray LaHood.
- FEC approved the use of campaign funds for paying travel expenses and attendance fees of members, and their spouses and children, to participate in a bipartisan congressional retreat.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1997-9: On behalf of the Chicago Board of Trade.
- FEC provided guidance concerning a Chicago Board of Trade proposal regarding the use of member traders' personal trading accounts for contributions to the board's Auction Markets PAC.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1997-27: On behalf of Congressman John Boehner and Friends of John Boehner.
- FEC provided guidance to Congressman John Boehner and his principal campaign committee on the use of campaign funds to pay legal expenses incurred in evaluating and pursuing civil remedies in a lawsuit.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1996-23: On behalf of ITT Corporation and its separate segregated fund.
- FEC assessed a complex disaffiliation of PACs, concluding that because three companies no longer were affiliated, their PACs were no longer affiliated.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1996-50: On behalf of Farm Credit Council.
- FEC provided guidance concerning the proposed termination of an affiliation relationship between the Farm Credit Council and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the related ending of affiliated status of their respective PACs.
Prior to 1995
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1992-27: On behalf of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
- FEC provided guidance to the National Republican Senatorial Committee to permit fundraising expenditures during the period January 1, 1991 through February 29, 1992 to be allocated retroactively in accordance with 11 C.F.R. § 106.5(a)(2)(ii).
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1991-26: On behalf of the Versatel Corporation.
- FEC provided Versatel Corporation guidance related to the billing for 900-line telephone services provided for political committees and candidates.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1988-33: On behalf of the Republican Party of Florida and its federal political committee.
- FEC provided guidance on whether the Republican Party may deposit monies distributed to it by the Florida Department of State per Florida law into a party account for use in connection with federal elections.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1987-29: On behalf of the National Association of Life Underwriters and the Life Underwriters PAC.
- FEC provided guidance to the National Association of Life Underwriters and its PAC concerning corporate financing of communications endorsing federal candidates and soliciting contributions earmarked for them through the PAC.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1986-6: On behalf of the Fund for America's Future, Inc.
- FEC provided guidance to the Fund for America's Future, Inc. concerning expenditures for activities during the 1986 election cycle in support of Republicans and the treatment of such expenditures with respect to any potential candidacy by Vice President George Bush.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1986-8: On behalf of James D. Santini.
- FEC provide guidance to James D. Santini concerning refunds of 1982 contributions to him to be made by his proposed 1986 principal campaign committee.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1983-8: On behalf of National Republican Senatorial Committee.
- FEC provided guidance concerning a fund created by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to defray the costs of purchasing an office facility for the Committee.
FEC Advisory Opinion Number 1980-83: On behalf of the Crane for President Committee, Inc.
- FEC advised that a presidential candidate's principal campaign committee must file monthly reports during the election year even after the candidate has announced that he no longer seeks nomination.
For more information on developments in federal campaign finance compliance counseling, please see the related articles below:
- Three Possible (and Possibly Big) Election Law Developments in 2013
- FEC Raises Some—But Not All—Contribution Limits
- Three Years Later, States Still Grappling with Aftermath of Citizens United
- Filing an FEC or LDA Report This Month? 12 Common Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them
- FEC Issues Interpretive Rule on Reporting Ultimate Payees of Political Committee Disbursements
ISSUE: JANUARY 2015
IN THIS ISSUE
- New Pay-to-Play Reporting Requirements for Maryland State and Local Contractors; Report Due February 5
- Additional Contributions Permitted for National Party Committees
- Recent FEC Advisory Opinions Shed Light on Affiliation Issues
- New Oklahoma Lobbying / Gift Rules
- Notable Changes in State Campaign Finance Law—Arkansas, Maryland, and Vermont
- Use of New LDA Filing System Becomes Mandatory For April 2015 Filings
- The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: 2014 Year-in-Review
- FEC, IRS, and Lobbying Disclosure Filing Dates for 2015
- Speeches/Upcoming Events
Symposium: McCutcheon and the Future of Campaign Finance Regulation
By Jan Witold Baran
April 4, 2014 | SCOTUSblog
The Six-Billion-Dollar Election: The Impact of Federal Election Laws
By Michael E. Toner and Karen E. Trainer
2013 | Barack Obama and the New America: The 2012 Election and the Changing Face of Politics
Two Years of Tax Returns is Plenty
By Michael E. Toner
July 19, 2012 | USA Today