Pence State Committee Can Use Funds on Campaign Wrap-up: FEC

By Brandon Ross

Vice President Mike Pence’s Indiana campaign committee is permitted to spend non-federal funds raised for his abandoned gubernatorial re-election race to store campaign materials and pay legal or accounting fees related to winding down activities, the Federal Election Commission ruled.

The FEC voted 6-0 at its Jan. 25 monthly open meeting to approve an advisory opinion (AO 2016-25) sought by the Mike Pence for Indiana campaign committee on how to handle more than $1.4 million in leftover campaign funds.

When Pence became the Republican vice presidential nominee, his state campaign became subject to certain provisions of federal election law that led to the request for the advisory opinion. The request came in December from law firm Barnes & Thornburg LLP on behalf of Pence’s state campaign committee.

FEC guidance was sought on how the unspent funds could be used because of unclear rules on the use of campaign funds as set forth in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and in a 2007 FEC opinion, the request said. The $1.4 million was raised according to Indiana law, but not in accordance with FECA, which created a gray area for usage of the funds, the request said.

The funds may be used to pay for storage of campaign items like the many files, filing cabinets, desks, chairs and a vehicle owned by the state campaign committee until they can be disposed of in accordance with FECA stipulations, according to the FEC’s advisory opinion. Also, the Pence state committee can use the campaign funds to pay for legal or accounting expenses for meeting state campaign disclosure requirements, or for winding down a campaign committee.

“We have no objections to it whatsoever,” Joseph C. Chapelle, partner at Barnes & Thornburg, who participated in the meeting via phone, said upon hearing the FEC’s advisory opinion prior to the vote.

The FEC didn’t receive any comments on the Pence request, an FEC staffer presenting the draft of the advisory opinion at the meeting said.

The state campaign committee already paid most of its expenses and returned money to campaign donors, the firm said in its request.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brandon Ross in Washington at bRoss@bna.com

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

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