This week the FEC was unable to muster a majority to deal with an advisory opinion requested by International Exchange Inc., which wanted to know if it could encourage managers and shareholders to contribute to it’s political action committee, ICE PAC (very clever), by making a two for one matching donation to a charity.
Citing a long line of opinions allowing dollar for dollar matching contributions to charities if an employee contributed to the PAC, the FEC’s three Republicans voted in favor of allowing the activity. The three Democratic Commissioners, however, were opposed. According to BNA’s Money & Politics Report:
“The three FEC Democrats balked, however, arguing that the program envisioned by ICE provided such a great incentive that it could induce PAC contributions that would not otherwise be made.
“FEC Democrat Ellen Weintraub argued especially strenuously during a commission meeting that approval of the proposal by ICE would undercut a key principle of campaign finance law that money given to PACs and campaigns must be contributed ‘voluntarily’ by the donor.”
We presume these Democrats also oppose the Fair Elections Now Act, which would provide 4 to 1 matching government grants for small campaign contributions, on the grounds that such contributions would not be voluntary by the donor. We further presume that they oppose any tax financing plan that includes incentives for candidates to participate, as being involuntary and therefore unconstitutional under Buckley v. Valeo.