Rules of the Game: Federal Elections 101


Quyen Tu, Susan Finkle-Sourlis, Tim Mooney


Affiliated Organizations, Ballot Measures, Election Related Activities, Funding Advocacy, Influencing Legislation

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.

Our Attorneys for this Episode:

Quyen Tu Susan Finkle-Sourlis Tim Mooney

What We Cover:

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

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

In-Kind Contributions and Coordinated Activities:

  • Definition and examples of in-kind contributions
  • Coordination with candidates and the implications

Recent FEC Opinions and Rulings:

  • Door-to-door canvassing coordination
  • Internet exception for unpaid communications

Ballot Initiatives and Federal Candidates:

  • Federal candidates’ involvement in state and local ballot measures
  • Recent advisory opinions from the FEC

Post-Election Activities:

  • Ballot curing coordination with federal candidates
  • Compliance requirements and legal considerations