Number: AO 06-01-CD
Requested by: Glenn Trimmer
Secretary Treasurer, USW Local 4959
Prepared by: Brooke Miles, Executive Director
Date Issued: June 7, 2006
Subject: Distribution of Inactive PAC Funds
This letter responds to your advisory opinion request dated January 16, 2006 that was received in our office on February 15, 2006. Because the request was stapled to your 2005 Year-End Campaign Disclosure Report, it only recently came to my attention. I apologize for the delay.
You have asked if the PACE Alaska PAC may distribute its surplus campaign contributions to its National PAC, PACE Local 8-369. You want to close your Alaska State PAC because of the requirement that all contributors must be identified by name and address. You have expressed concerns about the names and home addresses of your members (and PAC contributors) being published on the Internet.
PACE Alaska PAC may disband and transfer its surplus contributions to its associated National PAC, PACE Local 8-369.
You have requested an Advisory Opinion from the Alaska Public Offices Commission in accordance with 2 AAC 50.384(b) and 2 AAC 50.905. Your question concerns the disbursement of campaign assets held by Alaska PACE PAC. You request permission to transfer the funds held in your Alaska State PAC to the National PAC for the United Steelworkers
Alaska Administrative Code 2 AAC 50.384(a) addresses the reporting of final disbursement of group campaign assets.
2 AAC 50.384. DISBURSEMENT OF GROUP CAMPAIGN ASSETS. (a) Following the election, a group may
(1) leave its money in a campaign account until the following election if the group plans to remain active;
(2) contribute the money to another candidate or group subject to the contribution limitations and other requirements of AS 15.13;
(3) donate the money to qualified charitable organizations under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3);
(4) repay its contributors; or
(5) pay for a victory or thank you party.
(b) A group may not disburse funds in a manner other than that set out in (a) of this section except if approved by advisory opinion under 2 AAC 50.450.
Alaska’s campaign disclosure law requires that political groups list “the name, address, date, and amount contributed by each contributor….” AS 15.13.040(b) (3)
This requirement concerns the PACE Alaska PAC because their contributors are also their union members, and they have privacy issues. This requirement was among the 2003 amendments to the law; before that, contributions of $100 or less were reported only by the number of contributors and the total amount of the $100 or less contributions in each reporting period. PACE Alaska PAC is funded through a payroll deduction program and their contributors did not exceed the $100 reporting threshold that was in place prior to the 2003 amendment.
Although the Commission regulations do not specifically address the transfer of surplus funds from a State PAC to its affiliated National PAC, the Commission has addressed the issue of State PAC’s contributing to their National PACS.
In Advisory Opinion 97-09-CD, the IBEW PAC asked the following question:
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Committee On Political Education (IBEW-COPE) is a political action committee registered with the Federal Elections Commission. May the PAC make contributions to IBEW-COPE? If so, are there limits in the amount that the PAC may contribute to IBEW-COPE?
The following advice was issued by the Commission:
AS 15.13 does not address contributions by groups to national PACs which are active in federal campaigns and thus would not prohibit or limit IBEW PAC’s contributions to IBEW-COPE. IBEW PAC will need to consult with the Federal Elections Commission to determine if federal law limits its contribution to IBEW-COPE. Please note that, in a reciprocal scenario, AS 15.13 would address contributions by IBEW-COPE PAC to Alaska state and local candidates. Before IBEW-COPE could contribute to Alaskan state or local candidates or groups, the group would have to meet the state limitations on the size and source of its incoming contributions. See AS 15.13.070 (b) (1); AS 15.13.072(f).
AS 15.13.112 does require that a group’s funds are spent on activities that reasonably relate to election campaign activities. The Commission holds that this provision does not prohibit a state group from contributing to a national group or national candidate assuming that both entities would use the funds in connection with an election.
Therefore, in accordance with the advisory opinion issued to the IBEW PAC in 1997, PACE Alaska PAC may disband and send its surplus funds to its National PAC.
PACE Alaska PAC must file it final campaign disclosure report within ten days of disbanding as provided in 2 AAC 50.394. After the final report is filed, PACE Alaska PAC will have no further reporting requirements under AS 15.13, until such time as a new registration statement is filed.
Based on precedent Commission Advice, PACE Alaska PAC is permitted to send their surplus campaign funds to their National PAC upon disbandment.
The Commission approved the advice in this letter by an affirmative vote of 5-0 on September 20, 2006. The advice in this opinion applies only to the specific activity for which the advice was requested.
A copy of the original letter requesting the above advisory opinion is available upon request at the Alaska Public Offices Commission. 907/276-4176.