OPINION NUMBER - 049
ADOPTED - 1982/08/27
SUBJECT - Political Action Committee (Separate Segregated Political Fund); Fund-raising event; who may contribute.
REQUESTED BY: CARE PAC, Sandy Effle, Chairman, P.O. Box 14269, Omaha, Nebraska 68124
QUESTION: The letter from the Chairperson of this committee, dated August 10, 1982, requests "an advisory opinion on the legality of the sale of raffle tickets as a fund-raising mechanism by a political action committee which is associated with a non-profit trade association." However, in a phone conversation with Ted Schultz of The Nebraska Health Care Association, Inc., it appears that included within this question is whether such raffle tickets may be sold to the employees, directors and stockholders of the corporations which are members of the trade association.
The matter of the legality of selling raffle tickets is not within the jurisdiction of the Commission, but if such a raffle is otherwise lawful, it would be a fund-raising event pursuant to Section 49-1422, and the proceeds from the sale of such tickets would be contributions pursuant to Section 49-1415. Pursuant to Section 49-1469, a corporation or trade association may not receive contributions unless it does so through its separate segregated political fund. Section 49-1469(1).
Section 49-1469(2) (c) provides that all "contributions to and expenditures from such separate segregated political fund shall be limited to money or anything of ascertainable value obtained through the voluntary contributions of the employees, officers, directors, stockholders, or members of the corporation, including a non-profit corporation, labor organization, or industry, trade or professional association, and the affiliates thereof, under which such fund was established."
The Nebraska Health Care Association, Inc. is both an industry or trade association and a non-profit corporation. The foregoing statutory language does provide that contributions can be received from the employees, directors, stockholders and members of the affiliates of a corporation or association under which the fund was established, which at least indicates a legislative intent not to make the limitation on obtaining contributions so narrow as to permit contributions from just the employees, directors and stockholders of a holding company, for example. And, subsection (d) of Section 49-1469 (2) provides that the corporate member of an association does not even have to file a report of its contributions to the separate segregated political fund of its association as distinguished from its other contributions, which indicates a legislative intent to treat such corporate members as though they were the individuals who constitute the corporation, namely employees, directors and stockholders. It would appear therefore, that to permit such contributions to be received from the employees, directors and stockholders of the corporate members of such a non-profit corporate association would be consistent with legislative intent.
This legislation for the operation of political action committees was derived from the federal law. Federal law, however, prohibits a corporation or labor union from making direct political contributions and in lieu thereof permits such organizations to establish political action committees to solicit employees, stockholders or members to make such contributions. Nebraska does not prohibit corporations, labor unions or associations from making direct contributions. The statutory scheme of permitting corporations, unions and associations to solicit contributions is simply an additional method by which such an organization may make contributions. The scheme apparently envisions that when such an organization does this, it should not be doing it from the public generally but from those persons who are reasonably associated with such corporation, union or association.
Therefore, the Commission takes the position that the limitation on the receipt of contributions in Section 49-1469 (2) (c) does not prohibit the sale of fund-raising tickets to the employees, directors or stockholders of the corporate members of a non-profit corporation or an industry, trade or professional association.