FEC Eyes Planned App for Rounded-Up Contributions

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By Kenneth P. Doyle

The Federal Election Commission is set to consider Aug. 17 whether to approve a plan for a new app that would allow users to round up the change from purchases and contribute the rounded-up amount to Democratic congressional candidates.

The request for an FEC advisory opinion (AO 2017-06) came on behalf of entrepreneurs Eli Stein and Jeremy Gottlieb was filed by attorneys Jonathon Berkon and Tyler Hagenbuch of the firm Perkins Coie, which represents Democratic candidates and groups. The request said the creators of the new app want to use it to fund contributions to Democratic candidates for the U.S. House.

A user of proposed app could, for example, purchase an item at the store for $13.45. The app would round up to $14 and the user could select a candidate or candidates to receive the difference of 55 cents as a campaign contribution.

Democratic Donors Only

“Due to the current groundswell in voter and donor interest in swinging the U.S. House of Representatives to Democratic control, the Project plans to market the App to Democratic donors and will feature only Democratic candidates on the App,” Berkon’s letter said. “While the Project may decide to expand its user base to supporters of other parties in the future, doing so at this time would threaten the commercial viability of the Project in its startup phase.”

The advisory opinion request is set to be considered at the FEC’s next open commission meeting, according to a newly released meeting agenda. No draft response had been released by Aug. 14. The votes of at least four of the five current FEC commissioners are required to approved any final ruling.

The FEC has seats for six members, equally divided between commissioners recommended by Democrats and Republicans. One Democratic seat currently is vacant.

The Aug. 17 open commission meeting has only one other agenda item besides the advisory opinion request on behalf of Stein and Gottlieb. The FEC also is set to discuss findings of a staff audit of the Illinois Republican Party, which found hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of apparent violations of reporting an recordkeeping rules.

The FEC recently released a list of approved commission meeting dates from August through December.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kenneth P. Doyle in Washington at kdoyle@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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