Federal Elections 101

On this episode, we’ll discuss the basics of federal election law, including what it regulates, and which tax-exempt organizations need to be aware of it. We’ll also review recent FEC opinions that allow for interesting pre- and post-election activities for non-501(c)(3) organizations involving federal candidates.

Attorneys for this episode

  • Quyen Tu
  • Susan Finkle-Sourlis
  • Tim Mooney


1. Federal Election Law Basics:

·          • Overview of federal campaign finance regulations

·          • Role of the Federal Elections Commission (FEC)

·          • Differences between federal and state campaign finance laws

2. Key Regulations:

·          • Source prohibitions and contribution limits

·          • Types of source prohibitions (e.g., corporations, foreign nationals)

·          • Contribution limits and exceptions for PACs and Super PACs

3. In-Kind Contributions and Coordinated Activities:

·          • Definition and examples of in-kind contributions

·          • Coordination with candidates and the implications

4. Recent FEC Opinions and Rulings:

·          • Door-to-door canvassing coordination

·          • Internet exception for unpaid communications

5. Ballot Initiatives and Federal Candidates:

·          • Federal candidates’ involvement in state and local ballot measures

·          • Recent advisory opinions from the FEC

6. Post-Election Activities:

·          • Ballot curing coordination with federal candidates

·          • Compliance requirements and legal considerations


Rules of the Game

The Connection (newly updated)

• Blog post on coordinating canvassing (AFJ Action)