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What Every Politically Active 501(c)(4) in Georgia Needs to Know: Critical Differences Between Federal-Level and Georgia State-Level Campaign Finance Regulations

PAC, SuperPAC, Citizens Unitedthe national narrative often has an outsized impact on how state-level organizations believe they can engage in political activity. But, if you administer a non-profit that raises and spends money in Georgia elections, advocacy doesn’t have to seem out of reach.

This article will provide some background on Federal campaign finance rules that impact 501(c)(4) advocacy organizations, then discuss Georgia-specific political disclosure rules in depth. An overview of some of the major differences between Federal and Georgia political regulations follows. Campaign finance regulations will be applied to a fictitious 501(c)(4) organization, Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc., to illustrate how campaign finance laws may be applied in certain scenarios.

Bear in mind that what is addressed here is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice regarding a particular circumstance or situation. This is attorney advertising and should be construed as such. Please contact me with any Georgia political law questions that arise as you read this article. Please also be advised that the field of political law changes frequently and that future developments may quickly upend portions of this article.

I. 501(c)(4) Basics

A 501(c)(4) organization is a non-profit corporation that advocates for a specific cause, or “social welfare” issue. As it relates to the topic covered in this article - political activity - the U.S. Department of the Treasury (“US Treasury”), by itself and through the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), regulates these organizations on the federal level.

US Treasury regulations direct that the promotion of social welfare must not include “direct or indirect participation or intervention in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office.”[1] But, in what appears at first glance to be a contradiction, the IRS has determined that social welfare organizations are actually permitted to engage in political activity to a certain degree, but only if those activities are designed to advance the cause the organization was created to promote.[2]  To be more specific, political activity cannot be the primary purpose of that organization. [3] Additional rules, regulations, and guidance can be found in the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (Title 26 of the United States Code), IRS Revenue Rulings - which are akin to advisory opinions that provide guidance on specific real-world scenarios - and federal case law.

Distilling the federal laws, rules, regulations, and case law to their collective essence, a 501(c)(4) cannot be created for the benefit of a political party or candidate and must be organized for the purpose of furthering a cause benefiting a community, or the public at large. For example, a 501(c)(4) named “Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc.” can be created to advocate for cleaner beaches. The group cannot be formed specifically to support Senator Jones who happens to advocate for cleaner beaches on the campaign trail. Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. may, however, engage in some political activity in support of Senator Jones if the Senator’s policies are aligned with the 501(c)(4)’s mission.

Remember – and this is extremely important – political activity cannot be the primary objective of a 501(c)(4) organization. But how does the IRS quantify political activity for the purpose of determining if this activity is the organization's "primary purpose?" While the IRS does not have a clear test, generally the determination is made based on the group’s expenditures. The IRS may also look at other “facts and circumstances,” such as allocation of office space or staff and volunteer time, to determine how much of the organization's resources are devoted to political activity.[4]  All told, a 501(c)(4) must devote no more than 49% of its activities toward political ends. Organizations should shoot for a percentage below this mark, perhaps in the 45% to 40% range, to avoid accidental over-allocation and loss of tax exempt status.

So, given these rules, how can Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. support Senator Jones’ reelection bid? This is much more complex than it would first appear and depends on what type of office Senator Jones is seeking.

II.  How 501(c)(4)s Engage in Political Activity on the Federal Level

As an initial mater, 501(c)(4) organizations cannot make direct contributions to federal candidates due to the ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates found in federal law. [5]

Since 501(c)(4)s are not permitted to give directly to candidates, how do they engage in political activity?

The answer, at least on the federal level, is through independent expenditures. An independent expenditure is an amount of money, spent by an organization that is not affiliated at all with a candidate or campaign, on communications that “expressly advocate” for the election or defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate or candidates. These sorts of communications are called “electioneering communications.”

Be on the lookout- “Affiliated” as it is used here is not as cut and dry as one could reasonably infer. An organization could be totally separate entity from a campaign but, based on its behavior, could be considered affiliated with a campaign and violate Federal Election Commission ("FEC") rules. Be sure to consult Thompson Law PC, or an experienced political law attorney in your state to discuss the meaning of “affiliated” with respect to FEC laws and regulations.

Back to independent expenditures; I'm sure you've heard quite a bit about how the US Supreme Court's Citizens United decision changed the role of money in politics. But how? The Citizens United Court struck down governmental restrictions on corporate (remember, a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization is a corporation) spending of general treasury funds on independent electioneering communications. [6] The Citizens United decision, and a lesser known D.C. Circuit Court decision in v. FEC that applied the Citizens United decision, also removed contribution limits for organizations engaging in these independent expenditures.[7] Now, organizations may expend unlimited amounts on electioneering communications that are made independently of a campaign.

For the purpose of federal campaign finance regulations, general treasury funds are, essentially, the bank account or accounts that a corporation places its operating funds. The distinction between general treasury funds and separate entities that are permitted to give to campaigns is a lengthier discussion that may be more appropriately addressed in an article about Political Action Committees (“PACs”). For now, though, consider any and all bank accounts that a corporation has as general treasury funds unless that account is housed in a separate account known as a separate segregated fund.

All told, a 501(c)(4) may pay for advertisements and other communications that expressly advocate for the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate in a federal election so long as those communications are made independently of a campaign. A 501(c)(4) may also give unlimited sums to independent expenditure only PACs, otherwise known as Super PACs.

Do 501(c)(4)s have to disclose donors to the Federal Election Commission?

No, 501(c)(4)s do not have to disclose their donors to the FEC. This has given rise to the term "dark money," which is used to describe the dollars spent by Super PACs that come from 501(c)(4)s. Specifically, individuals or corporations donate to a 501(c)(4), which does not have to disclose the source of its contributions to the FEC. This 501(c)(4) then, in-turn, contributes those same funds to a Super PAC, and that Super PAC makes independent expenditures using the money. Because the Super PAC only needs to disclose the name of the 501(c)(4) when it discloses its contributors, the underlying funder of the independent expenditure is never disclosed to the FEC. I will not wade into the extensive public policy discussion surrounding “dark money,” but for the purpose of this article it is important to note that Georgia law has different disclosure rules for corporations. The distinction will be addressed in section two below.

Back to our example, how can Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. support Senator Jones’ bid for US Senate?

Since Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. cannot contribute directly to Senator Jones’ campaign, the organization must find different ways to engage in the political process to further the organizations’ goals. Remember- the organization must advocate for its specific social welfare position, and it is supporting Senator Jones because she has been a vocal supporter of increased federal funding for Georgia beach restoration.

Aside from engaging in generic voter registration drives or other education-centric activities, Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. can spend the considerable amount of money it has raised in two broad ways. It can 1) fund ads and perform field activities that are wholly separate from Senator Jones’ campaign to advocate for her reelection, or 2) it can contribute to an independent expenditure only PAC that will perform the same activities, separate from Senator Jones’ campaign. The organization can also do both if it so chooses.

If Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. decides to pursue option one, it should consult with a political attorney to ensure that it is engaging in activities that are completely separate from Senator Jones’ campaign, that its communications comply with FEC and FCC laws, rules, and regulations, and that it is otherwise engaging in activities that do not run afoul of other applicable federal laws. Also, throughout this process, Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. should remember that it cannot spend more than 49% of its funds on political activity.

III.  How 501(c)(4)s Engage in Political Activity in Georgia Non-Federal Elections

501(c)(4) organizations must always comply with U.S. Treasury and IRS laws, rules, and regulations outlined earlier in this article. To narrow our lens a bit this means that, even if a 501(c)(4) does not engage in any federal political activity whatsoever, the federal rules relating to allocation of funds toward political ends remains.

In Georgia non-federal elections, corporations may give directly to candidates.  In addition, campaign finance disclosure rules contain several differences that can trip up Georgia advocacy organizations.

Because corporations may give directly to candidates, Georgia PACs, non-profit and for-profit corporations, and some individuals, fall in two broad categories. An organization can either be registered as a 1) contribution only committee, referred to under Georgia law as a PAC, or 2) as an Independent Committee, which cannot give to candidates and may only engage in independent expenditure political activity. Recently, the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission released an Advisory Opinion that allows a single entity to have a contribution only PAC and a separate segregated fund[8] (“SSF”) specifically for independent expenditures.[9] An organization can contain these two different campaign finance entities so long as each entity has its own separate and distinct bank account and both accounts are registered separately with the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission.

Additionally – and this is an important distinction - because Georgia law allows direct corporate contributions to candidates subject to reporting requirements, Georgia does not have quite the same “dark money” loophole noted in Section II (other loopholes remain, however, but that is for another article). Other differences are detailed below.

Corporate Contributions to Candidates

As addressed above, there is no prohibition on corporate (this includes non-profit corporations) contributions to candidate campaigns and PACs in Georgia, but contributions to candidates are subject to limitation.[10]

Specifically, as it relates to reporting requirements, a 501(c) entity is considered a Person within the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Act and must report its contributions and expenditures if it meets certain requirements.[11] If the corporation makes contributions to, or expenditures on behalf of, candidates above an aggregate of $25,000 per calendar year and contributes to more than one candidate, the organization must register with the State and file campaign finance disclosure reports on the same schedule as Georgia candidates.[12]

This section of Georgia law is frequently misinterpreted. 501(c)(4)s registered as PACs usually incorrectly assume that Georgia law follows federal law and do not report contributions or disclose donors to the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission. 501(c)(4)s will also over-report because they do not know that periodic campaign finance disclosures are only necessary when the organization gives an aggregate of $25,000 per year and up AND give to more than one candidate. Note: in Georgia it is impossible to give over $25,000 per year to one candidate due to contribution limits, so naturally the number of candidates contributed to is a secondary consideration.

Back to Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. – how, when, and under what circumstances would they Report Georgia State-Level Contributions?

To illustrate how the reporting requirement works, lets apply it to different scenarios. Unlike on the federal level, if Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. wanted to contribute to Senator Jones’ campaign for reelection as a Georgia state senator, they may do so directly so long as the organization does not exceed campaign contribution limits.

If Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. only gave to Georgia State Senator Jones’ campaign during 2017, and gave the campaign $2,500, it would not have to report its contribution because it did not give an aggregate of $25,000 to any and all candidates in Georgia, and the organization only gave to one candidate.

If Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. gave $2,500 to eleven different state senate candidates over the course of 2017, it would have to submit regular campaign finance disclosure reports and register as a PAC because it gave an aggregate of $27,500 in the calendar year and gave to more than one candidate.

If Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. gave $30,000 to only one Independent Committee in 2017, it would not have to register or report its contribution in a campaign finance disclosure report. The independent committee would have to report the contribution, however.

If Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. gave $24,000 to an Independent Committee in 2017, and gave $2,500 to Senator Jones’ campaign during the same year, it would not have to submit a campaign finance report because it did not give above $25,000 to candidates during the 2017 calendar year.

Lastly - and this relates to the independent expenditure section below - what would happen if Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. spent $30,000 in independent expenditures in Senator Jones' race AND gave Senator Jones $2,500?  The answer is complicated, but two things would have to be in place:
1. Citizens for Cleaner Beaches Inc. would need two bank accounts, one for independent expenditures and the other for PAC candidate contributions. Both would follow their respective registration and reporting requirements. This would mean that the $30,000 would have to be reported by Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc.'s previously registered independent committee, or Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. would have to create and register an independent committee immediately after making the expenditures; and
2. Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. would have to create and abide by a firewall policy to separate the independent expenditure-only independent committee and the PAC side of the organization. (Firewall policies are complex, so please contact me if you or your organization needs to set one up)

Corporate Independent Expenditures

Since corporations can give directly to candidates, why make independent expenditures?  Simply put, an organization can spend more in independent expenditures than it can in direct contributions, making a larger impact on the electorate.

Like on the federal level, corporations may contribute unlimited amounts to Independent Committees, or make unlimited independent expenditures when registered as an Independent Committee.[13] It should be noted that if a corporation makes independent expenditures without using an Independent Committee, the corporation must file campaign finance reports using the schedule provided by the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission and register as an Independent Committee when it files its first on-schedule campaign finance report.[14]

Otherwise, Independent Committees must register prior to accepting or making expenditures and must file supplemental disclosure reports every six months.[15] In election years, the Independent Committee must also file the same disclosure reports on the first day of each of the two calendar months preceding an election, then two weeks before an election and, finally, two business days after receiving a contribution or making an expenditure over $1,000 less than two weeks before an election.[16]

What is considered an independent expenditure in Georgia?

As of this writing, Georgia law defines an “independent expenditure” as express advocacy that “…must not be made with the cooperation or consent of, or in consultation with, or at the request and suggestion of any candidate or any of his or her agents or authorized committees.”[17] So, in sum, an independent expenditure in Georgia is an expenditure that includes express advocacy but is not coordinated with a political campaign. For this reason, it is important to determine what constitutes cooperation, consultation with, or coordination with a political campaign, then make expenditures that do not cross these boundaries. But, as discussed below, Georgia law is not clear on what constitutes "express advocacy."

What is considered "express advocacy" in Georgia?

Georgia law does not define “express advocacy" in statute. Instead, the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission (formerly the Georgia Ethics Commission) has provided guidance in two Advisory Opinions- Advisory Opinion 2001-32 and Advisory Opinion 2010-5. These opinions applied the test provided by the United States Supreme Court in Buckley v. Valeo, which directs that express advocacy consists of “communications containing express words of advocacy of election or defeat, such as ‘vote for’, ‘elect’, ‘cast your ballot for’, ‘Smith for Congress’, ‘vote against’, ‘defeat’, ‘reject.’”[18] This test is commonly referred to as the “magic words” test.

In the 2003 case McConnell v. FEC, the United States Supreme Court modified the “magic words” standard from Buckley by adding contextual analysis.[19] The new standard still looks for the same “magic words,” but added that words urging action with respect to a particular candidate and a specific issue (“vote pro-beach” with a picture of Senator Jones on the mailer is an example) constitute express advocacy.[20] In addition, the use of campaign slogans or words that, in context, can have no other reasonable meaning are also considered express advocacy. Finally, and most importantly, the McConnell Court also held that, in the absence of explicit words of advocacy, express advocacy can be found in a communication that, when taken as a whole and with limited reference to external events, (such as proximity to an election) can only be interpreted by a reasonable person as containing advocacy of the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate.[21]

Many states changed their laws or regulatory rules following the McConnell decision. Georgia, however, has yet to do so, and since Georgia law has not provided a definition of express advocacy, Georgia regulators continue to use the old Buckley standard set out in Advisory Opinions 2001-32 and 2010-5.

On October 5, 2017, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission approved Advisory Opinion 2017-05 during a public meeting. This Advisory Opinion directly addressed coordination and express advocacy and, of particular import, the Advisory Opinion noted that “[t]he evidence that [a communication] is an in-kind contribution to a campaign is strongest when the communication was made at the behest of or in coordination with the candidate. That is, if a candidate asks for a communication or speech of some sort, the cost of providing that speech may be an in-kind contribution to the candidate regardless of whether the speech was 'express advocacy.'”[22] As a practical matter, this means that a communication does not have to include express advocacy to be considered an in-kind contribution, but there are also circumstances where coordinated, non-express advocacy communications that refer to a candidate would not be contributions. 

Based on conversations and comments made during Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission meetings, an effort to create a definition of express advocacy will commence in the very near future. This change may result in changes to the topics addressed in this article, principally in analyzing what kinds of communications may be made independently and paid for by an Independent Committee or produced and distributed by a contribution only PAC and reported as an in-kind contribution.

Independent Expenditures on Non-Communications

Even if the organization's goal is to influence the electorate by making independent expenditures on activities that are not strictly considered communications, it is important to keep those activities separate from candidates and their campaigns. Why?  Remember, in Georgia, a contribution is "...anything of value conveyed or transferred for the purpose of influencing the nomination for election or election of any person for office... ...not includ[ing] the value of personal services performed by persons who serve without compensation from any source and on a voluntary basis..."  [23] 

Also, bear in mind that, if the candidate receives any item of value other than money it will be considered an in-kind contribution, and if the candidate receives the use/benefit of a good or service paid for by another it will be considered an in-kind expenditure. Both in-kind contributions and in-kind expenditures are considered contributions for the purpose of the Campaign Finance Act. [24]  Explained in a much simpler way, Advisory Opinion 2017-05 notes that "...if a candidate coordinates with a nonprofit or other organization on campaign communications or activities, then the expenditures for the communications or activities are likely in-kind contributions to the candidate." [25]

Independent Expenditures on Communications

As of this writing Georgia campaign finance regulators are attempting to move Georgia law closer to federal law - in particular with its definition of what constitutes express advocacy – so it makes sense to look at federal law to analyze whether an expenditure on a communication is truly independent. It is important to note that this framework will work for 501(c)(4) political expenditures designed to be made only as Georgia-level independent expenditures, and this approach may change when “express advocacy” is defined in Georgia law.

 The FEC uses a three-part test to determine if a communication is coordinated with a candidate. What follows is very broad, and an organization should not use this framework without discussing details with a Georgia political law attorney.

For additional details on how Georgia differs from the federal analysis below, read "Georgia Campaign Finance in the News: A Closer Look at Georgia Campaign Finance Laws that Prohibit Coordination between Campaigns and Outside Organizations".

1.     Payment:
Almost always satisfied – if the communication is paid for or provided in-kind by anyone. This could be by the candidate or by another person or entity.

2.     Content:
A communication that:
a)     Expressly advocates (remember our analysis above) for the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate;
b)    republishes, disseminates or distributes candidate campaign materials;

 3.     Conduct:
A communication that:
a)     is made at the request or suggestion of a candidate;
b)    the candidate or staff were materially involved strategic decisions of a public communication paid for by someone else;
c)     was created after one or more substantial discussions between the person paying for the communication, or that person’s agents, and the candidate or agent of the candidate.

*This is a very broad overview and any decisions should be made in consultation with a political law attorney.

Increased Commission attention on coordination, taken with recent statements from Commission staff relating to ramping up enforcement efforts, indicates that the Commission will likely be actively pursuing violators in the 2018 statewide election cycle.

How can Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. engage in independent expenditure political activity?

It is important to note that independent expenditures are highly fact-specific. For this reason, these examples should not be used in isolation, and it is important to contact a Georgia political attorney before engaging in any similar activity.

Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. wants to conduct independent expenditures in Senator Jones’ state senate reelection campaign. The organization is a 501(c)(4) and registered in the state of Georgia as an Independent Committee.

Q1.     Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. hires a Senator Jones’ field staffer from this most recent cycle to help them design the perfect mailer to support Senator Jones and highlight her stance on beach restoration. Is this permissible?

A1.    No, especially if the former staffer was privy to the Senator’s get out the vote and/or communication strategy.  Usually a former staffer should not be employed by an independent expenditure organization that plans on using that staffer in their former candidate’s race unless they have not been involved in the campaign for at least 120 days. The organization may hire the former staffer; however, they may not use that staffer in the former employer-candidate’s race until 120 days have elapsed, and only if the former staffer was not privy to specific campaign plans.

Q2.     Senator Jones calls Sandy Smith, the CEO of Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc., and strongly encourages Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. to get involved in her race. Can the organization make independent expenditures in Senator Jones’ race subsequent to the candidate's urging?

A2.    No. The expenditures are at the request or suggestion of the candidate and are not considered independent. Any expenditures from the request forward are in-kind contributions subject to Georgia campaign finance limits.

Q3.     Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. wants Senator Jones to win reelection. On their own volition they conduct polling and determine that several beachside precincts are vital to Senator Jones’ reelection bid. Citizens for Cleaner Beaches, Inc. then creates a mailer that states “Cleaner Beaches are good for our children and our economy. Vote Senator Jones on November 7th.” Is this permissible?

A3.    Yes. The organization did not coordinate with the Senator Jones’ campaign, even though they used words of express advocacy. Because they did not coordinate, the mailer is an independent expenditure and not considered an in-kind contribution subject to campaign finance limits.

IV.          Recap: Key Differences Between Federal and Georgia rules

1.     Unlike on the federal level, in Georgia corporations can give directly to candidates.

2.     In Georgia, organizations that make political expenditures fit in two categories. 1) Independent Committees that may only make independent expenditures; and 2) PACs, which can give directly to candidates. There is one exception - an organization may have two separate accounts, one that is registered as a PAC and another that is registered as an Independent Committee.

3.     There is a dark money loophole in Georgia (which I may describe in a subsequent article), but it is not the same as its federal-level cousin. So long as a 501(c)(4) makes aggregate yearly contributions above $25,000, the 501(c)(4) must make regular campaign finance disclosures and will become a PAC. If the 501(c)(4) is an Independent Committee it must register with, and make regular disclosures to, the Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission.

4.      In Georgia, an Independent Committee must register either at its inception or when it has raised or spent $1,000. The Independent Committee must file supplemental disclosure reports every six months, and during election years it must file a disclosure report on the first day in each of the two calendar months preceding an election, then again two weeks before the election. The Committee must file a two business day disclosure report if it has received or spent over $1,000 between filing the two week report and election day.

5.       In Georgia, a PAC must register when it has made aggregate contributions to candidates above $25,000 in a calendar year. Subsequent to hitting this benchmark the PAC must file disclosure reports periodically using the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission's candidate disclosure calendar.

6.     When it comes to independent expenditures it is best to Contact Thompson Law. PC or an experienced political law attorney to construct what is known as a firewall to keep your organization compliant.

7.      Georgia law defining “express advocacy” may change soon. When it does, it will effect the type of messaging both Independent Committees and PACs use in Georgia state-level elections.

If you have any questions about this article, or if you are involved with either a current 501(c)(4) or would like to create one, please contact me to set up a consultation. If you are out of state and wish to conduct political activity in the State of Georgia, please also reach out to ensure that you comply with Georgia law.

About the Author

Andrew J. Thompson is the Principal Attorney and founder of Thompson Law, PC. Andrew brings over a decade of government, public policy, and political campaign experience to the practice of law. With this perspective, Andrew works with activists to help them achieve their organization’s goals while ensuring compliance with complex federal, state, and local laws and regulations. Andrew also advises political candidates on campaign formation and compliance with local, state, and federal laws.

Andrew currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia, with his wife Claire Hennessey. Andrew participates in several pro-bono legal and public interest organizations, and was recently selected to work with Lawyers for Equal Justice, a program sponsored by the State Bar of Georgia that recognizes entrepreneurial, public-interest minded lawyers with innovative, socially conscious, and sustainable law practices. Andrew is also a Board member at Common Cause Georgia, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization focused on statewide redistricting reform, ensuring fair and accessible elections in the state of Georgia, monitoring the role of money in politics.

Andrew J. Thompson, Esq.
Phone: (678) 263-3984
229 Peachtree Street NE
International Tower - Suite 450
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

*Licensed in the State of Georgia and the District of Columbia


[1] Treas. Reg. § 1.501(c)(4)-1(a)(2)(ii).

[2] See IRS Rev. Rul. 81-95, 1981-1.

[3] Id.

[4] IRS Rev. Rul. 2004-6.

[5] 52 U.S.C. 30118(a)

[6] Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010).

[7], 599 F.3d 686 (D.C. Cir. 2010).

[8] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-40(7).

[9] See Georgia Gov’t Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Advisory Opinion 2015-02.

[10] For authority to limit contributions to candidates, see O.C.G.A. § 21-5-41.

[11] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34; O.C.G.A. § 21-5-3(19); O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34(e).

[12] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34(e).

[13] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34(e); O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34(f) et seq.; Ga. Comp. R. & Regs 189-3-.01(9)(f); See Georgia State Ethics Commission (renamed GA Gov’t Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission) Advisory Opinion S.E.C. 2010-02, Question 1.

[14] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34(f)(1); See Georgia State Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion S.E.C. 2010-02, Question 2.

[15] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-34(f)(1).

[16] Id.

[17] Ga. Comp. R. & Regs 189-3-.01(9)(f).

[18]  State Ethics Commission of GA Advisory Opinion No. 2001-32; citing Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 44 (1976). 

[19] McConnell v. FEC, 540 U.S. 93, 189-200 (2003)(Overruled in part by Citizens United v. FEC, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)).      

[20]  See generally Id.    

[21]  See generally Id

[22] GA Gov’t Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Advisory Opinion No. 2017-05, citing FEC v. Colo. Republican Fed. Campaign Comm., 533 U.S. 431, 442, 446 (2001) (US Supreme Court held that the effect of coordination between candidates and outside supporters fundamentally transformed the expenditure, noting a "wink or nod" often will be "as useful to the candidate as cash.").

[23] O.C.G.A. § 21-5-3(7)

[24] Ga. Comp. R. & Regs. r. 189-6-.07 and 189-2-.01(11).

[25] GA Gov’t Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission Advisory Opinion No. 2017-05

[26] The list of exceptions can be found in 11 C.F.R. § 109.23(b).

[27] McConnell, 540 U.S. at 189-200; see also 11 C.F.R. § 100.22(b).



Andrew Thompson