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AO 2019-09: PAC may sell T-shirts with names and likenesses of candidates – FEC.gov

Mad Dog PAC, a nonconnected political committee, may raise funds by selling T-shirts bearing the facial likenesses and names of certain candidates.

Background

Mad Dog PAC (the Committee) intends to sell T-shirts through its website featuring the facial likenesses and names of candidates seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election. The Committee will use free, open source candidate photos as the basis for the graphic depictions on the T-shirts and will neither communicate with nor share proceeds with any of the candidates. Purchasers will be informed that the entire purchase price is a contribution to the Committee.

The Committee’s website contains disclaimers informing visitors that it is paid for by the Committee and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. The Committee will also inform potential purchasers that the images on the T-shirts have not been authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. Potential purchasers will be screened to prevent receipt of contributions from impermissible sources. Eligible purchasers will provide all required contributor information so the Committee can ensure compliance with the applicable contribution limits and reporting requirements.

Analysis

Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, a contribution includes “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” Additionally, Commission regulations define contribution to include “the entire amount paid as the purchase price for a fundraising item sold by a political committee.”

The Commission concluded that the Committee’s proposal is permissible because the Committee will treat the entire purchase price of the T-shirts as contributions and will comply with the applicable disclaimer, source, amount, and reporting requirements.

Date issued: July 11, 2019; Length: 4 pages

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