Quick Answers to Party Questions
This page provides answers to frequently asked questions. If you don't find an answer to your question here, please contact the FEC's Information Division, toll free at 800-424-9530 (option 6) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When does my party committee need to register with the FEC?
- How does a committee qualify as a state or national party committee?
- Must a local party coordinate its activities with the state party?
- Do I need to file monthly or can I just file quarterly?
- What are the coordinated party expenditure limits?
- When are the federal election activity periods for my state?
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National and state party committees must register with the FEC once they make contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections that exceed $1,000 in a calendar year. Local party committees must register with the FEC once they:
- Make contributions or expenditures in connection with federal elections that exceed $1,000 in a calendar year;
- Spend more than $5,000 in a calendar year on so-called "exempt activities"; or
- Raise more than $5,000 during a calendar year in funds designated for use in federal elections.
As with other committees, parties must register by filing FEC Form 1 [PDF] (Instructions [PDF]), Statement of Organization within 10 days after reaching the applicable threshold. Party committees should download the Campaign Guide for Political Party Committees [PDF] for more information about the laws that apply to them.
The Commission determines whether committees meet the criteria for state or national party committee status through the advisory opinion process. For state committee status, the Commission has generally looked to see if the committee engages in activities that are commensurate with the day-to-day operations of a party at the state level, and if the committee has gained ballot access for its federal candidates.
For national committee status, the criteria include:
- Nominating qualified candidates for President and various Congressional offices in numerous states;
- Engaging in certain activities--such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives--on an ongoing basis;
- Publicizing the party's supporters and primary issues throughout the nation;
- Holding a national convention;
- Setting up a national office; and
- Establishing state affiliates.
Typically, yes. All FEC-registered local party committees within a state are presumed to be affiliated with the state party committee and, as a result, share the state committee's contribution limits. For that reason, the committees must keep in close contact to ensure that they stay within their shared limits. Local party committees wanting to establish their independence from the state committee should request an advisory opinion from the Commission. Click here for more information on how to obtain an opinion from the Commission.
A state, district or local party committee with reportable expenditures for Federal Election Activity (FEA) must file monthly. All other state, district and local party committees may choose to file monthly or quarterly, and may change their filing frequency as often as once per calendar year. National party committees must file monthly.
Each year, the Commission publishes the coordinated party expenditure limits on its website. View the current year's coordinated party expenditure limits, as well as archived limits from past years.
Within 120 days before an election, voter registration, voter identification, get-out-the-vote and generic campaign activities conducted by state, district or local party committees are considered federal election activity (FEA) and must be financed using federal funds, Levin funds or a combination of the two. As states establish their election schedules (including special elections), the Commission calculates the applicable FEA periods.