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AO 2021-02: Political committee’s use of aggregated contribution data – FEC.gov

The Full Employment Now-Political Action Committee (FEN-PAC) may use aggregate contribution data from its FEC reports in advocating for certain legislative and policy issues.

Background

FEN-PAC is an independent expenditure-only political committee that engages Members of Congress and Congressional candidates to advocate on certain legislative and policy issues. As part of those communications, FEN-PAC proposes to inform Members and candidates of both the number of PAC contributors who live in their state or district and the collective amount those donors have contributed to FEN-PAC.

Analysis

The Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) requires a political committee to report the name, mailing address, occupation, and employer of any individual who contributes more than $200 to the committee in a calendar year. The Act also requires the Commission to make these reports available for public inspection and copying. The Act however prohibits any information copied from Commission reports from being “sold or used by any person for the purpose of soliciting contributions or for commercial purposes.”

The Commission has expressly held that aggregated data and data that does not contain individual contributor’s contact information does not implicate the privacy concerns at the heart of the Act’s sale-or-use prohibition. Moreover, the Commission has repeatedly approved the use of aggregated contribution data obtained from Commission reports, so long as that data is not used by the committee or third parties to solicit contributions or to sell other products or services. Accordingly, FEN-PAC may use aggregated, non-personally identifiable contribution data from its reports in its proposed communications.

Date issued: February 25, 2021; Length: 4 pages

Citations

Statutes

52 U.S.C. § 30101(13)
Definition of the term “identification”

52 U.S.C. § 30104
Reporting requirements

52 U.S.C. § 30111(a)(4)
Administrative provisions

Resources

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