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Advisory Opinion Request - IE PAC Solicitations

Advisory Opinion Request - IE PAC Solicitations

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Published by: Andy Kroll on May 19, 2011
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Perkis
Coie
MarcErikElias
PIl()N~:
(202)434-1609
FAX:
(202)654-9126
EMA1L:
ThirteenthStreet,
NW.,
Suite
600
W;lshington,
D.C.20005-3960
PHONE:
202.654.6200
FAJ(
202.654.6211
May19,2011
BYHANDDELIVERY
ChristopherHughey,Esq.ActingGeneralCounselFederalElectionCommission999EStreetN.W.Washington,D.C.20463
Re:AdvisoryOpinionRequest
Dear
Mr.
Hughey:Pursuantto2U.S.c.§437±~weseekanadvisoryopiniononbehalfofMajorityPACandHouseMajorityPAC(hereinafter,the"PACs").ThePACsposethefollowingquestions:1.DespitetheSupremeCourt'sdecisionin
McConnell
v,
FEC
upholdingthesoftmoneysolicitationban,mayFederalofficeholdersandcandidates,andofficersofnationalpartycommittees(hereinafter,"coveredofficials")solicitunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsonbehalfofthePACswithoutviolating2U.S.c.44li?!2.
If
theanswertothefirstquestionis"no,"pleaseconfirmthatcoveredofficialsdonotviolate2U.S.C.§441iiftheyparticipateinfundraisersforthePACsatwhichunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsareraised,providedthattheydonotsolicitsuchcontributionsbycomplyingwith11C.F.R.§300.64.Whilethereisnodoubtthatcoveredofficialsmaysolicitfederallypermissiblefunds-
e.g.
contributionsofupto$5,000fromindividualsandFederalPACs-onbehalfofthePACs,the
I
Therequestdoesnotaskabouthow11C.F.R.
§
109.21wouldapplytotheseactivities.Additionally,asstatedinAdvisoryOpinionRequest2010-11,thePACswillnotsolicitoracceptfundsfromforeignnationalsasdefinedby2U.S.C.
§
44le;federalcontractorsasdefinedby2U.S.C.§441c;ornationalbanksorcorporationsorganizedbyactofCongress,asdescribedin2V.S.c.
§
441b(a).
ANCHORAGE.GEIJ'ING.BELLEVUE·BOISE·CHICAGO,DALLAS,DENVERLOSANGELESMADISON·PALOALTOPHOENIX.PORTLAND·SANDIEGO·SANFRANCISCO,SEATTLE·SHANGHAI·WASHINGTON.D.C.
Perki
ns
Cole
LLP
 
May19,2011Page2restrictionssetforthat2U.S.c.§441iwouldappeartoprohibitcoveredofficialsfromsolicitingunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsonbehalfofthePACs.However,inlightofthenewsmediareportssuggestingthattheRepublicanSuperPACplanstoaskcoveredofficialstosolicitsuchcontributionsonitsbehalf,thePACsasktheCommissionwhethercoveredofficialsmaysolicitunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsontheirbehalfaswell?IftheCommissiondoesnotfindthatsuchsolicitationsviolate2U.s.c.§44li,thePACsplantoaskcoveredofficialstomakesuchsolicitationsontheirbehalf.WeasktheCommissiontoexpeditethisrequestandissuearesponseassoonaspossible.TheCommissionhaslongadheredtoan"informalpracticeofexpeditingcertainhighlysignificant,time-sensitiverequests(whetherornotrelatingtoanupcomingelection).TheCommissionendeavorstoissueadvisoryopinionswithin30daysunderthisgeneralexpeditedprocess."NoticeofNewAdvisoryOpinionProceduresandExplanationofExistingProcedures,74F.R.32160,32162(July7,2009).Thesequestionsarebothhighlysignificantandtime-sensitive.Thefirstquestion,inparticular,implicateswhetherthesolicitationrestrictionssetforthintheBipartisanCampaignReformActcontinuetoapplyaftertheSupremeCourt'sdecisionin
CitizensUnited
v.
FEC,
558U.S.50(2010)andtheD.C.Circuit'sdecisionin
SpeechNow.org
v.
FEC,
599F.3d686(D.C.Cir.2010).UntiltheCommissiondefinitivelyresolvesthesequestions,thePACsandcoveredofficialswillbeleftinastateoflegallimbo.
I.
BACKGROUND
OnJune11,2010,MajorityPAC-underitspreviousname,CommonsenseTen-filedaStatementofOrganizationwiththeCommission.'Thesameday,itfiledanadvisoryopinionrequestwiththeCommission,askingwhetheritcouldsolicitandacceptunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributions,andreportthosecontributionstotheCommission,providedthat
it
onlymadeindependentexpendituresanddidnotmakeanycontributionstoFederalcandidatesorcommittees.Thefollowingmonth,theCommissionissuedanadvisoryopinionconfirmingthat"theCommitteemaysolicitandacceptunlimitedcontributionsfromindividuals,politicalcommittees,corporations,andlabororganizations"providedthattheCommitteeagreesto"notusethosefundstomakecontributions,whetherdirect,in-kind,orviacoordinatedcommunications,tofederalcandidatesorcommittees."AdvisoryOpinion2011-11(CommonsenseTen).4Inaddition,the
SpeechNow
opinionmadeclearthatthebienniallimits
2
See,e.g.
http://www.politico.com/news/stOlies/OSll/55091.html;http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com120
II
05/16/citizens-united-lawyer-creates-super-pacl(accessedonMay19,2011).
3
OnMarch9,2011,CommonsenseTenamendeditsStatementofOrganizationtochangeitsnametoMajority
PAC.
4
Onthesameday,theCommissionissuedAdvisoryOpinionRequest2011-09(ClubforGrowth),whichreachedthesameconclusion.
 
May19,2011Page3foundat2U.S.C.§441a(a)(3)donotapplytocontributionsmadetotheseindependentexpenditurecommittees.
SeeSpeechNow.org,
599F.3dat696.Consistentwiththisadvisoryopinion,thePACshavesolicitedandacceptedunlimitedcontributionsfromindividuals,corporations,andunions,includingfromindividualswhohavereachedtheirbiennialaggregatelimits,andarereportingthesecontributionstotheCommissioninaccordancewithCommissiondeadlines.
5
Furthermore,thePACshavenotusedthesefundstomakecontributionstoFederalcandidates,politicalpartycommittees,orotherpoliticalcommitteesthatmakecontributionstoFederalcandidatesorpartycommittees.Justthisweek,severalnewsmediaoutletsreportedthatanewSuperPAC,dubbedtheRepublicanSuperPAC,plannedtoaskcoveredpersons-includingMembersofCongress-tosolicitunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsonitsbehalf,whichitwouldthenuseinconnectionwithFederalandnon-Federalelections.Accordingtoarecentinvitation(attached
as
ExhibitA),theRepublicanSuperPACwouldworkasfollows:
Politicalpartiesandcandidateswouldsolicitanddirectfederalandstatecontributionsfromdonors,abovethecurrentstateandfederalcontributionandsourcelimitations,
to[RepublicanSuperPAC]asearmarkedfundsforindependentexpendituressupportingoropposingspecificallydesignatedfederaland/orstatecandidatesorcandidatesinacertainstateorstates.
See
ExhibitA(emphasisadded),
availableat
http://reporting.sunlightfOlmdation.com/20IllNew-bODO-super-pac/.II.QUESTIONSPRESENTEDInlightofthesefacts,thePACsrequestthefollowing:
1.
Maycoveredofficialssolicitunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsonbehalfofthePACswithoutviolating2V.S.c.
§
44li?
WhilecoveredofficialsmayclearlysolicitfederallypermissiblefundsonbehalfofthePACs,therestrictionssetforthat2U.S.C.§44liwouldappeartoprohibitcoveredofficialsfromsolicitingunlimitedindividual,corporate,andunioncontributionsonbehalfofthePACs.
SeeMcConnell
v.
FEC,
540U.S.93,142-54,181-184(2003)(upholdingsoftmoneysolicitationbanfornationalparties,Federalcandidatesandofficeholders);
RNe
v.
FEe,
698F.Supp.2d150,156-60(D.D.C.2010)(rejectingRNC'sas-appliedchallengetosoftmoneysolicitationban),
aff'd
130S.Ct.3544(2010).
In
fact,theplaintiffsin
CitizensUnited
and
SpeechNow-
thecasesthatledtothecreationofSuperPACs-didnotevenchallengethesolicitationrestrictionssetforthat
5
HouseMajorityPACfileditsStatementofOrganizationonAprilS,201l.

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