11 CFR 109.21 - What is a

§ 109.21 What is a “coordinated communication”?
(a) Definition. A communication is coordinated with a candidate, an authorized committee, a political party committee, or an agent of any of the foregoing when the communication:
(1) Is paid for, in whole or in part, by a person other than that candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee;
(2) Satisfies at least one of the content standards in paragraph (c) of this section; and
(3) Satisfies at least one of the conduct standards in paragraph (d) of this section.
(b) Treatment as an in-kind contribution and expenditure; Reporting—
(1) General rule. A payment for a coordinated communication is made for the purpose of influencing a Federal election, and is an in-kind contribution under 11 CFR 100.52(d) to the candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee with whom or which it is coordinated, unless excepted under 11 CFR part 100, subpart C, and must be reported as an expenditure made by that candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee under 11 CFR 104.13, unless excepted under 11 CFR part 100, subpart E.
(2) In-kind contributions resulting from conduct described in paragraphs (d)(4) or (d)(5) of this section. Notwithstanding paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee with whom or which a communication is coordinated does not receive or accept an in-kind contribution, and is not required to report an expenditure, that results from conduct described in paragraphs (d)(4) or (d)(5) of this section, unless the candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee engages in conduct described in paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(3) of this section.
(3) Reporting of coordinated communications. A political committee, other than a political party committee, that makes a coordinated communication must report the payment for the communication as a contribution made to the candidate or political party committee with whom or which it was coordinated and as an expenditure in accordance with 11 CFR 104.3(b)(1)(v). A candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee with whom or which a communication paid for by another person is coordinated must report the usual and normal value of the communication as an in-kind contribution in accordance with 11 CFR 104.13, meaning that it must report the amount of the payment as a receipt under 11 CFR 104.3(a) and as an expenditure under 11 CFR 104.3(b).
(c) Content standards. Each of the types of content described in paragraphs (c)(1) through (c)(5) of this section satisfies the content standard of this section.
(1) A communication that is an electioneering communication under 11 CFR 100.29.
(2) A public communication, as defined in 11 CFR 100.26, that disseminates, distributes, or republishes, in whole or in part, campaign materials prepared by a candidate or the candidate's authorized committee, unless the dissemination, distribution, or republication is excepted under 11 CFR 109.23(b). For a communication that satisfies this content standard, see paragraph (d)(6) of this section.
(3) A public communication, as defined in 11 CFR 100.26, that expressly advocates, as defined in 11 CFR 100.22, the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate for Federal office.
(4) A public communication, as defined in 11 CFR 100.26, that satisfies paragraph (c)(4)(i), (ii), (iii), or (iv) of this section:
(i) References to House and Senate candidates. The public communication refers to a clearly identified House or Senate candidate and is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in the clearly identified candidate's jurisdiction 90 days or fewer before the clearly identified candidate's general, special, or runoff election, or primary or preference election, or nominating convention or caucus.
(ii) References to Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. The public communication refers to a clearly identified Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate and is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in a jurisdiction during the period of time beginning 120 days before the clearly identified candidate's primary or preference election in that jurisdiction, or nominating convention or caucus in that jurisdiction, up to and including the day of the general election.
(iii) References to political parties. The public communication refers to a political party, does not refer to a clearly identified Federal candidate, and is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in a jurisdiction in which one or more candidates of that political party will appear on the ballot.
(A) When the public communication is coordinated with a candidate and it is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in that candidate's jurisdiction, the time period in paragraph (c)(4)(i) or (ii) of this section that would apply to a communication containing a reference to that candidate applies;
(B) When the public communication is coordinated with a political party committee and it is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated during the two-year election cycle ending on the date of a regularly scheduled non-Presidential general election, the time period in paragraph (c)(4)(i) of this section applies;
(C) When the public communication is coordinated with a political party committee and it is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated during the two-year election cycle ending on the date of a Presidential general election, the time period in paragraph (c)(4)(ii) of this section applies.
(iv) References to both political parties and clearly identified Federal candidates. The public communication refers to a political party and a clearly identified Federal candidate, and is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in a jurisdiction in which one or more candidates of that political party will appear on the ballot.
(A) When the public communication is coordinated with a candidate and it is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in that candidate's jurisdiction, the time period in paragraph (c)(4)(i) or (ii) of this section that would apply to a communication containing a reference to that candidate applies;
(B) When the public communication is coordinated with a political party committee and it is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated in the clearly identified candidate's jurisdiction, the time period in paragraph (c)(4)(i) or (ii) of this section that would apply to a communication containing only a reference to that candidate applies;
(C) When the public communication is coordinated with a political party committee and it is publicly distributed or otherwise publicly disseminated outside the clearly identified candidate's jurisdiction, the time period in paragraph (c)(4)(iii)(B) or (C) of this section that would apply to a communication containing only a reference to a political party applies.
(5) A public communication, as defined in 11 CFR 100.26, that is the functional equivalent of express advocacy. For purposes of this section, a communication is the functional equivalent of express advocacy if it is susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a clearly identified Federal candidate.
(d) Conduct standards. Any one of the following types of conduct satisfies the conduct standard of this section whether or not there is agreement or formal collaboration, as defined in paragraph (e) of this section:
(1) Request or suggestion.
(i) The communication is created, produced, or distributed at the request or suggestion of a candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee; or
(ii) The communication is created, produced, or distributed at the suggestion of a person paying for the communication and the candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee assents to the suggestion.
(2) Material involvement. This paragraph, (d)(2), is not satisfied if the information material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication was obtained from a publicly available source. A candidate, authorized committee, or political party committee is materially involved in decisions regarding:
(i) The content of the communication;
(ii) The intended audience for the communication;
(iii) The means or mode of the communication;
(iv) The specific media outlet used for the communication;
(v) The timing or frequency of the communication; or
(vi) The size or prominence of a printed communication, or duration of a communication by means of broadcast, cable, or satellite.
(3) Substantial discussion. This paragraph, (d)(3), is not satisfied if the information material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication was obtained from a publicly available source. The communication is created, produced, or distributed after one or more substantial discussions about the communication between the person paying for the communication, or the employees or agents of the person paying for the communication, and the candidate who is clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee. A discussion is substantial within the meaning of this paragraph if information about the candidate's or political party committee's campaign plans, projects, activities, or needs is conveyed to a person paying for the communication, and that information is material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication.
(4) Common vendor. All of the following statements in paragraphs (d)(4)(i) through (d)(4)(iii) of this section are true:
(i) The person paying for the communication, or an agent of such person, contracts with or employs a commercial vendor, as defined in 11 CFR 116.1(c), to create, produce, or distribute the communication;
(ii) That commercial vendor, including any owner, officer, or employee of the commercial vendor, has provided any of the following services to the candidate who is clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee, during the previous 120 days:
(A) Development of media strategy, including the selection or purchasing of advertising slots;
(B) Selection of audiences;
(C) Polling;
(D) Fundraising;
(E) Developing the content of a public communication;
(F) Producing a public communication;
(G) Identifying voters or developing voter lists, mailing lists, or donor lists;
(H) Selecting personnel, contractors, or subcontractors; or
(I) Consulting or otherwise providing political or media advice; and
(iii) This paragraph, (d)(4)(iii), is not satisfied if the information material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication used or conveyed by the commercial vendor was obtained from a publicly available source. That commercial vendor uses or conveys to the person paying for the communication:
(A) Information about the campaign plans, projects, activities, or needs of the clearly identified candidate, the candidate's opponent, or a political party committee, and that information is material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication; or
(B) Information used previously by the commercial vendor in providing services to the candidate who is clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee, and that information is material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication.
(5) Former employee or independent contractor. Both of the following statements in paragraphs (d)(5)(i) and (d)(5)(ii) of this section are true:
(i) The communication is paid for by a person, or by the employer of a person, who was an employee or independent contractor of the candidate who is clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee, during the previous 120 days; and
(ii) This paragraph, (d)(5)(ii), is not satisfied if the information material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication used or conveyed by the former employee or independent contractor was obtained from a publicly available source. That former employee or independent contractor uses or conveys to the person paying for the communication:
(A) Information about the campaign plans, projects, activities, or needs of the clearly identified candidate, the candidate's opponent, or a political party committee, and that information is material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication; or
(B) Information used by the former employee or independent contractor in providing services to the candidate who is clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee, and that information is material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication.
(6) Dissemination, distribution, or republication of campaign material. A communication that satisfies the content standard of paragraph (c)(2) of this section or 11 CFR 109.37(a)(2)(i) shall only satisfy the conduct standards of paragraphs (d)(1) through (d)(3) of this section on the basis of conduct by the candidate, the candidate's authorized committee, or the agents of any of the foregoing, that occurs after the original preparation of the campaign materials that are disseminated, distributed, or republished. The conduct standards of paragraphs (d)(4) and (d)(5) of this section may also apply to such communications as provided in those paragraphs.
(e) Agreement or formal collaboration. Agreement or formal collaboration between the person paying for the communication and the candidate clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee, is not required for a communication to be a coordinated communication. Agreement means a mutual understanding or meeting of the minds on all or any part of the material aspects of the communication or its dissemination. Formal collaboration means planned, or systematically organized, work on the communication.
(f) Safe harbor for responses to inquiries about legislative or policy issues. A candidate's or a political party committee's response to an inquiry about that candidate's or political party committee's positions on legislative or policy issues, but not including a discussion of campaign plans, projects, activities, or needs, does not satisfy any of the conduct standards in paragraph (d) of this section.
(g) Safe harbor for endorsements and solicitations by Federal candidates.
(1) A public communication in which a candidate for Federal office endorses another candidate for Federal or non-Federal office is not a coordinated communication with respect to the endorsing Federal candidate unless the public communication promotes, supports, attacks, or opposes the endorsing candidate or another candidate who seeks election to the same office as the endorsing candidate.
(2) A public communication in which a candidate for Federal office solicits funds for another candidate for Federal or non-Federal office, a political committee, or organizations as permitted by 11 CFR 300.65, is not a coordinated communication with respect to the soliciting Federal candidate unless the public communication promotes, supports, attacks, or opposes the soliciting candidate or another candidate who seeks election to the same office as the soliciting candidate.
(h) Safe harbor for establishment and use of a firewall. The conduct standards in paragraph (d) of this section are not met if the commercial vendor, former employee, or political committee has established and implemented a firewall that meets the requirements of paragraphs (h)(1) and (h)(2) of this section. This safe harbor provision does not apply if specific information indicates that, despite the firewall, information about the candidate's or political party committee's campaign plans, projects, activities, or needs that is material to the creation, production, or distribution of the communication was used or conveyed to the person paying for the communication.
(1) The firewall must be designed and implemented to prohibit the flow of information between employees or consultants providing services for the person paying for the communication and those employees or consultants currently or previously providing services to the candidate who is clearly identified in the communication, or the candidate's authorized committee, the candidate's opponent, the opponent's authorized committee, or a political party committee; and
(2) The firewall must be described in a written policy that is distributed to all relevant employees, consultants, and clients affected by the policy.
(i) Safe harbor for commercial transactions. A public communication in which a Federal candidate is clearly identified only in his or her capacity as the owner or operator of a business that existed prior to the candidacy is not a coordinated communication with respect to the clearly identified candidate if:
(1) The medium, timing, content, and geographic distribution of the public communication are consistent with public communications made prior to the candidacy; and
(2) The public communication does not promote, support, attack, or oppose that candidate or another candidate who seeks the same office as that candidate.
[68 FR 451, Jan. 3, 2003, as amended at 71 FR 33208, June 8, 2006; 75 FR 55961, Sept. 15, 2010]

Title 11 published on 2014-01-01

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