OPINION NUMBER - 070
ADOPTED - 1984/10/26
SUBJECT - Campaign Finance Practices; separate segregated political funds (PACs); contributions by a Nebraska PAC to a federal PAC.
REQUESTED BY: CF-PAC, Thomas C. Kjar, Chairman, c/o Commercial Federal Savings and Loan Association, 2120 South 72nd Street, Omaha, Nebraska 68101
QUESTION: May a Nebraska political action committee contribute to a federal political action committee?
No, unless the Nebraska PAC is registered as a federal political committee.
By letter dated August 22, 1984, to the Executive Director of the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, Thomas C. Kjar, Chairman of CF-PAC, responding to an inquiry of the Commission concerning contributions by CF-PAC to the U.S. League of Savings Association Political Elections Committee (SAPEC), requested an opinion in view of the fact that CF-PAC was about to make another annual contribution to SAPEC. CF-PAC is a Nebraska separate segregated political fund (PAC or political action committee) established and administered by Commercial Federal Savings and Loan Association. SAPEC is a federal political action committee set up by the U.S. League of Savings Institutions to solicit contributions from executive and administrative personnel of member savings institutions and from directors of these institutions. Such contributions are used to help finance the campaign efforts of candidates for federal office (primarily, the Senate and House of Representatives).
Section 49-1469(2)(c) of the Accountability Act provides that: (o)nly expenditures to candidates and committees and independent expenditures may be made from a fund established by a corporation . . .."
It is the intent of the contributor that controls what his contribution is for. See Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinion 1984-31, CCH Federal Election Campaign Financing Guide section 5759.
In the absence of a solicitation spelling out what a contribution is for or how it will be used, a contribution by an employee, officer, director, stockholder or member of a corporation doing business in Nebraska and administering a Nebraska PAC must be viewed as intended for Nebraska candidates and committees. See Accountability Act definitions of "candidate" in Section 49-1409(2) and "committee" in Section 49-1413, i.e., "for or against the nomination or election of. . . candidates . . .."
However, Nebraska law does not prohibit a Nebraska PAC from acting as an intermediary or collection agent for a federal PAC. This can be done by means of participating with the federal PAC in a joint solicitation or when the contributions to the Nebraska PAC are designated as percentages or fixed dollar amounts for one PAC or the other.
Otherwise, funds received by the Nebraska PAC and transferred to the federal PAC in whole or in part would be expenditures (or contributions) by the Nebraska PAC to the federal PAC and not to the Nebraska candidates and committees as required by Section 49-1469(2)(c). In order to do this, the definition of "committee" would have to be expanded to include federal committees. If the context requires, such a construction may be made. Section 49-1403.
It is our position that the context of Section 49-1469(2)(c) would not require such a construction except to accommodate a Nebraska PAC functioning simultaneously as a federal PAC (C.1.a., Memorandum of NADC General Counsel, January 5, 1982). See Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinions 1983-3 and 1982-46.