FEC OKs Members Of Congress Appearing In Online Commercial Content

The Federal Election Fee (FEC) not too long ago issued an advisory opinion allowing Pray.com to characteristic members of Congress within the firm’s on-line audio and video content material, however that these members additionally could also be candidates for reelection or election to different federal workplaces. The opinion raises a lot of issues for each business firms and nonprofit teams relating to their interactions with federal elected officers and candidates.

Pray.com is a for-profit company that operates a business web site and digital machine app offering its customers with non secular content material. Like many different digital content material suppliers, Pray.com affords a mixture of free content material and paid premium content material. At situation within the FEC advisory opinion was whether or not Pray.com might provide its customers free content material that includes members of Congress discussing non secular religion points with out making a prohibited in-kind contribution to members who're additionally candidates.

Below the federal marketing campaign finance legislation, firms (together with each for-profit and nonprofit entities) are prohibited from making contributions to federal candidates. Different varieties of entities (primarily PACs) are topic to contribution limits. Sure public communications which might be coordinated with candidates are thought-about in-kind contributions, and a candidate’s participation within the manufacturing or dissemination of public communications is mostly thought-about a type of coordination.

In a really “by-the-book” evaluation, the FEC relied totally on its coordinated communications rule in concluding that Pray.com’s content material wouldn't represent in-kind contributions. It is because the FEC’s coordinated communications rule solely applies to “public communications.” With respect to on-line content material, the FEC’s definition of a “public communication” solely covers communications “positioned for a price on one other individual’s web site” or digital platform.

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