Disclosure Rules for Lobbyist Bundling

January 16, 2009, Political Activity Law Bulletin

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New Federal Election Commission ("FEC") rules will soon require federal candidates, leadership PACs, and party committees to disclose contributions that are "bundled" by individuals or entities required to register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act ("LDA").1 The rules will take effect in the next few months, after the FEC fully completes its formal rulemaking process. Four simple things should be remembered about these new rules:

  1. "Bundling" by registered lobbyists is not prohibited; it is only subject to new disclosure requirements.
  2. Lobbyists themselves have no obligation to disclose fundraising activity under the new FEC rules. Only federal candidates, leadership PACs, and party committees must disclose "bundled" contributions.
  3. The new disclosure rules only apply when a registered lobbyist "bundles" multiple contributions totaling over $16,000 for a particular candidate or committee during a 6-month, 3-month, or 1-month period.
  4. Federal candidates and committees will likely request notification of LDA-registered status before authorizing individuals to fundraise. This will relieve the candidates and/or committees of searching public records to determine lobbyist status—a potentially laborious task.
The remainder of this article describes the FEC's new bundling disclosure regulations in more detail.

FEC Definition of "Bundled"
Under the FEC's new regulations, a contribution received by a candidate, leadership PAC, or party committee is "bundled" when it is either:
  • Forwarded by a registered lobbyist; or
  • Credited to a registered lobbyist "through records, designations, or other means of recogni[tion]" such as titles, fundraiser tracking numbers, access to events or activities, and mementos.
Thus, a contribution is "bundled"—and possibly subject to disclosure requirements—if a candidate or committee notes in its records that it was solicited by a registered lobbyist. A contribution is also "bundled" if a registered lobbyist is rewarded for soliciting a contribution with an invitation to a fundraising event, a candidate photograph, or a fundraising title (e.g., "Pioneer" or "National Finance Committee Member").

"Bundling" Disclosure Reports
Reporting obligations are triggered once a candidate or committee receives during a 6-month, 3-month, or 1-month period over $16,000 from multiple contributions that were "bundled" by a particular registered lobbyist. A candidate or committee must disclose on new FEC Form 3L the name, address, employer, and amount "bundled" of each registered lobbyist whose fundraising activities exceed the $16,000 threshold.

Amending Lobbyist PAC Registrations
The FEC's new rules require any political committee that a registered lobbyist "established or controls" to amend its FEC registration form to reflect its relationship with a registered lobbyist.

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FOOTNOTE:

1. A recipient committee must also report contributions "bundled" by political committees that an LDA registrant or listed lobbyist "established or controls." The term "registered lobbyist," as used in this article, includes all of these lobbyist PACs.

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