Compliance News Briefing
Rep. Steve Stockman (TX) announced earlier this month that his campaign against Sen. John Cornyn will accept bitcoin donations. We wrote about the Federal Election Commission’s decision to accept the digital currency back in November.
We argued that accepting bitcoin donations would present unique compliance challenges for political campaigns. In our opinion, a volatile exchange rate and relative anonymity add up to a compliance nightmare.
So far Stockman has not explained how he will handle bitcoin donations, but it will be interesting to follow how the FEC manages this precedent.
While we’re on the subject of bitcoins, the Massachusetts Office of Political and Campaign Finance also issued an opinion on bitcoin donations to state campaigns this month. OCPF permits bitcoin donations, but requires committees to exchange bitcoin to USD and immediately deposit the money received within 5 days of receipt. However, bitcoins are not a permissible currency for campaign expenditures.
Last week, the Commission continued discussions regarding whether mobile phone banner advertisements for political campaigns are exempt from disclaimer requirements. The Commission had previously drafted two advisory opinions in response to a request from Revolution Messaging, a firm specializing in political advertising.
The first opinion proposed that mobile phone advertisements do not qualify for an exemption and could meet disclaimer requirements by alternative means. The second opinion upholds the small item exemption. The FEC allows for exemptions where the inclusion of a disclaimer is impractical, such as on bumper stickers, buttons, pins and similar small items. At the request of the Commission, Revolution Messaging will submit a revised request seeking a narrower exemption.
Hillary Clinton foes file FEC complaint (Politico)
Stop Hillary PAC has filed a complaint with the FEC alleging that Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign violated campaign finance law by renting its email list to the Ready for Hillary PAC. Campaign finance laws prohibit coordination between a candidate’s committee and political action committee. While Clinton is not a declared presidential candidate, the compliant argues that the FEC must evaluate whether or not the list is being used to draft Clinton’s 2016 presidential run.