Credit Card Fees: Should they be considered a campaign expenditure?
When you give $100 to a campaign, the campaign pays a small fee - let's call it $3 - to the credit card processing company. Under current law, that's an expenditure - made from hard dollars.
Just today, I had a client to me, "But why would I want to drive my high dollar donors to our website? I don't want to pay those fees!"
Instead, imagine a world where the donor was asked to pay the fee themselves. In practice, the full $100 would arrive at the campaign - and the donor would pay $3 to the credit card processing company (or, say, ActBlue.) Under current law, that's considered an in-kind contribution to the campaign by the credit card company -- which gets maxed out (and can't come from a corporation.)
Tomorrow, the FEC will re-examine this question. After all, if the donor pays the $3 directly to the credit card processing company - does that really benefit the campaign? It's a transaction that happens entirely outside of their purview.
Here's the scoop from the Campaign Legal Center:
The FEC is scheduled to consider at its meeting tomorrow the question of whether a political committee that contracts its Web-based fundraising operations to an outside vendor must pay for the services itself or, instead, is permitted to off-load the costs to its contributors without the contributorâs payment of these costs being considered an in-kind contribution to the committee. Despite the seemingly narrow scope of this question, the FECâs answer could have far-reaching and negative implications for the future of political fundraisingâso it is important that the Commission gets it right. ...
The CLC opposes this reform, arguing it would boost campaign finance limits - and allow campaigns to shift all kinds of expenses to their donors.
The Commissionâs Office of General Counsel has produced two alternative draft opinions for the Commissionâs consideration at its meeting tomorrow. âDraft Aâ concludes that contributor payment of the âconvenience feeâ would be a contribution to the recipient committee, while âDraft Bâ concludes that contributor payment of the âconvenience feeâ would not be a contribution to the recipient committee.
Yup, this proposed new rule could mean that you could set up fundraising "events" that way exceed the $2300 maximum donation -- say a trip to Hawaii, where the pricetag included a $2300 donation plus the full cost the event. Fascinating stuff.
(Hat tip to fundraiser extraordinaire Vince Currao, for bringing it to our attention.)
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