Mobile Device Fundraising Update: FEC Advises, Campaign Pros Chafe

Landscape googleplus

Last Friday, C&E Insider Blog wrote about Aristotle Inc.


Last Friday, C&E Insider Blog wrote about Aristotle Inc.’s proposal that the FEC should create an advisory panel to inform vendors and campaigns on best practices relating to fundraising via new technologies, specifically mobile devices.

On Monday, the FEC issued an advisory opinion clarifying its position on how current campaign finance law applies to donations made from mobile devices, and the news was not good for most campaigns and vendors. Notably, the FEC declined to endorse fundraising via anonymous text message and created new barriers for technology providers involved in fundraising through mobile devices.

In its opinion, the commission identified three main problems:

1)      Mobile companies are not forwarding funds raised quickly enough to individual campaigns.   2)      There was not an adequately robust system of segregation in place to separate campaign funds raised from corporate funds derived through commerce. (The law requires that all political donations be kept in a separate account from corporate profits). 3)      In order to ensure that the donations were not received from corporations or foreign nationals, mobile providers and vendors of political fundraising technology will have to screen contributions against their billing records.

This clarification is certainly welcomed by campaign professionals unclear on the commission’s requirements for mobile fundraisers. At the same time, it raises a host of new problems; perhaps the most impactful is the requirement that mobile companies screen their contributors, which would require a significant amount of labor. That would make fundraising through mobile devices, as charities do, prohibitively expensive for all but the best-funded of campaigns.

Dave Mason, former FEC commissioner and Aristotle, Inc.’s vice president of compliance services, does not believe the commission’s intention was to make this process onerous for those seeking to be compliant. That was, however, the unintended result. “When you look at the federal statute to regulate campaigns, I have a hard time believing they wanted to cut off campaigns from commercial fundraising technologies,” says Mason. “[Yet] this is what is happening with some of the forwarding and screening requirements.”

Mason says that this further underlines the need for the FEC to establish an advisory panel to ensure that political campaigns are legally compliant when employing new fundraising technologies. Mason, like the company’s CEO, John Aristotle Phillips, is optimistic that this will happen eventually, though he observes that bureaucracies don’t change overnight.

Mason believes that the FEC could put this panel in place quickly, and he believes that most of the commissioners are behind Aristotle’s proposal. “They have done similar things before; they held a series of hearings on enforcement procedures which were really useful for both the commission and people outside the commission,” says Mason. “this would really be a technological version of those hearings, but on an ongoing fashion.”

Noah Rothman is the online editor at C&E. Email him at nrothman@campaignsandelections.com

<!-- /article-body --> <!-- x --> Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Email a Friend RSS RSS RSS Comments <!-- ERROR id = "comment" --> <!-- MESSAGE id = "approval" --> Name: * Email: * Submit

Be the first to comment on this article!

<!-- /comments --> <!-- /article-body --> Related Articles Campaign Pros Seek Clearer Guidance on Fundraising with New Technology

by Noah Rothman / Nov 19 2010

AFF Withdraws FEC Request on Robocalls

by Shane D'Aprile / Jan 13 2010

FEC May Negate Robocall Law

by Shane D'Aprile / Nov 10 2009

Return of the Issue Ad?

by Amy Harris / Jul 01 2009

Court To Rule On Supreme Amounts of Corporate Cash

by Jeremy Jacobs / Sep 09 2009

Colbert 'Super PAC' gets FEC green light

by Camille Eslick / Jun 30 2011

<!-- /related-articles --> <!-- /related --> <!-- /article --> <!-- /column-content --> Newsletter Sign up

Please enter a valid email address

Sign up here to receive newsletters and special offers from Campaigns & Elections.

Register <!-- /newsletter-signup -->

Advertise with Campaigns&Elections

<!-- Overlay_Popup --> <!-- /mpu --> Most read <!--<li id="tab-most-commented"><a href="#most-commented">Most commented</a></li>--> Most recent Getting campaigns to pay up before it's too late The colors to avoid on yard signs  4 fundraising questions to ask before you run Why the best data in the world won't win you an election Facebook kills a grassroots tool <!-- /most-read --> could not find any article comments. exiting. <!-- /most-commented --> Getting campaigns to pay up before it's too late 4 fundraising questions to ask before you run How to think like a journalist Facebook kills a grassroots tool Why the best data in the world won't win you an election <!-- /most-recent --> <!-- /container --> <!-- /most-read-commented --> Follow C&E <!-- /module-facebook-linkedin --> Follow us on Twitter <!-- start tweetswind code --> <!--In accordance with the Terms of Service, please display the link within the page.-->

TweetsWind: a Twitter widget

<!-- end tweetswind code --> <!-- /column-sidebar -->

Share this article


0 comments

Submit a comment

Required field are marked with “*”.