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  • FEC Record: Advisory opinions

AO 2019-18: Advertising by online political forum

June 19, 2020

IDF International Technologies, Inc.’s (IDF) operating activities and advertising for an online political forum are not expenditures, contributions or electioneering communications. IDF is not a political committee and is not required to submit any reports to the Commission or to include disclaimers in its advertising.

Background

IDF is a for-profit corporation that runs online discussion forums, including a political discussion forum. IDF’s business model is to buy advertising for a forum, provide the forum as a communications platform for users, and then sell advertising on the forum to generate revenue. IDF does not control the content of any ads displayed on its forums. IDF’s advertising purchases are solely for the purpose of attracting users to its forum, and not for the purpose of influencing any election. IDF neither solicits nor makes contributions to candidates, political parties, or other political committees.

Analysis

The Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) and Commission regulations define the terms “contribution” and “expenditure” to include any gift, loan, or payment of money or anything of value for the purpose of influencing a federal election. IDF’s ads do not espouse any public positions on any candidate or political party or contain express advocacy. Additionally, IDF does not have any interaction with any candidate or political party, or make any contributions directly to any political committee. The Commission concluded that payments to advertise IDF’s forums online do not constitute contributions to any political committee or expenditures.

IDF’s advertising is conducted exclusively on the internet and does not include any “broadcast, cable, or satellite communications.” Additionally, IDF’s ads do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate. Accordingly, the ads do not constitute electioneering communications or independent expenditures.

IDF does not make any expenditures or receive any contributions, and therefore is not a political committee and does not need to register with the Commission.

Finally, the ads IDF describes in its request do not require disclaimers. IDF is not a political committee and its ads are not electioneering communications, do not expressly advocate the election or defeat of any candidate or solicit contributions.

Date issued: June 18, 2020; Length: 6 pages

Citations

Regulations

11 CFR 100.5
Political committee

11 CFR 100.29
Electioneering communication

11 CFR 100.52
Gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money

11 CFR 100.111
Gift, subscription, loan, advance or deposit of money

11 CFR 102.1
Registration of political committees

11 CFR 104.20
Reporting electioneering communications

11 CFR 109.10
How do political committees and other persons report independent expenditures?

11 CFR 110.11
Communications; advertising; disclaimers

Resources

  • Author 
    • David Garr
    • Communications Specialist
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