Last week the FEC increased the reporting threshold for contributions bundled by lobbyists to $17,100 (up from $16,700).

These bundling reports are required of authorized federal candidate committees, leadership PACs, and political party committees if the “reporting committee” receives two or more bundled contributions that exceed the $17,100 threshold.

A bundled contribution is any contribution that is either (1) forwarded to a reporting committee by a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC, or (2) received by the reporting committee and credited to a lobbyist/registrant or lobbyist/registrant PAC through “records, designations, or other means of recognizing that a certain amount of money has been raised.” This second kind of bundled contribution is a far more common fundraising technique than the first, because it helps to avoid some of the legal risks associated with collecting contributions. The first type – where the bundler physically collects the checks – can result in impermissible corporate facilitation of contributions. Even if using a PAC to bundle contributions, there are complicated contribution limit issues that apply.  

Thus, bundlers need to be concerned about how bundled contributions are reported. If a reporting committee credits a corporation with bundling, it can raise questions about whether corporate resources were used to conduct the fundraising (even if they were not, or if the fundraising was done in a permissible way). In other situations, the bundler may want to receive proper credit for his or her efforts (there is great flexibility in how multiple individuals can be credited for hosting joint events).

It is important to note that bundled contributions do not include a contribution from the personal funds of the lobbyist or the lobbyist’s spouse who forwards or gets credit for bundling the contributions. Likewise, contributions made from a lobbyist/registrant PAC that forwards or gets credit for the bundled contributions are not included in the bundled report. For example, if a lobbyist gives $2,600, and the PAC from his company gives $5,000, no report is required if he is credited with raising $17,000 from other sources.

Lobbyist bundling issues can be complicated, and in the rush that goes with raising funds for candidates or committees, it can be easy for a committee to inadvertently fail to report contributions or for a lobbyist to designate them improperly.