The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), after consultation with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), prepared guidance to describe and to emphasize the prohibitions on political contributions or expenditures by national banks pursuant to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, as amended, 2 USC § 441b (the Act). The bulletin replaces OCC Bulletin 2000-8 (March 22, 2000).

The Act makes it unlawful for a national bank to make any contribution or expenditure or to provide any service (except usual and customary banking services) or anything of value in connection with any election to any political office, or in connection with any primary election or political convention or caucus held to select candidates for any political office. This prohibition applies to all federal, state, and local elections, political conventions, and caucuses. 11 CFR § 114.2(a). In addition, it is unlawful for any officer or any director of a national bank to consent on behalf of the bank to any political contribution or expenditure prohibited by the Act, and it is unlawful for any candidate, political committee, or other person to knowingly accept or receive a political contribution or expenditure prohibited by the Act. 2 USC § 441b.

FEC Regulations prohibit other forms of political contributions or expenditures by national banks, including, but not limited to, the purchase of tickets to political dinners or other political fundraising events, advertisements in political literature, and donations of goods or services in connection with political fundraising events and activities. 11 CFR §§ 100.51-100.57 and 114.2. However, bank employees, in their personal capacity, may make contributions from their own funds. Also, a national bank is not prohibited under the Act from making a contribution to a fund whose purpose is to influence a ballot referendum, provided the referendum does not involve elections to any political office.

The Act requires that every political committee designate at least one insured depository institution as its campaign depository where all receipts are deposited and from which all significant disbursements are made. 2 U.S.C. § 432(h). National banks may serve as those depositories for political committees and may pay interest and dividends, in the regular course of business, on funds in such accounts. Fees for banking services may be waived or discounted, provided that such concessions are offered to others on equal terms and are a normal business practice.