Created By: Sylvia Scott on 03/15/2007 at 01:52 PM
Category: Campaign Finance Advisory Opinions
March 13, 2007
Richard B. Easterling
Adams & Reese, L.L.P.
450 Laurel Street, Suite 1900
Baton Rouge, LA 70801
Re: Ethics Board Docket No. 2006-712
Dear Mr. Easterling:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, in its capacity as the Supervisory Committee on Campaign Finance Disclosure, at its March 8, 2007 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion as to the Louisiana Realtors® Association (the “Association”) creating a second political committee called Friends of Louisiana Real Estate, whose purpose would be to support the nomination or election of individuals to state or local offices by making independent expenditures. Currently in existence is the Associations’ political committee called Louisiana Realtors® Political Action Committee (LARPAC), whose purpose is to support candidates for election to legislative and executives offices of the State of Louisiana. Each local Association board shall be a member and shall elect a representative to serve on the Board of Directors of Friends of Louisiana Real Estate (Friends PAC). No director of the Friends PAC may serve as an officer of or on the executive committee of the Association, or otherwise be actively involved in the day-to-day operations of the Association, particularly with respect to political campaigns, or serve as an officer, director or otherwise be actively involved in the governance or operation of an individual campaign committee or LARPAC. Each director of Friends PAC must sign a confidentiality agreement and acknowledge in writing that cooperation or coordination of expenditures or activities with individual candidates or their committees, LARPAC, or the Association is strictly prohibited.
With respect to each of the following questions, the Board, with Board member Greene dissenting, concluded and instructed me to inform you as to the following:
1. Will the expenditures of Friends of Louisiana Real Estate be considered separate from the expenditures of LARPAC?
Yes, based on the information provided, it appears that, as created, the political committees are separate and the expenditures of one are not attributable to the other.
2. If made without the cooperation, consultation, or concert with a candidate, any political committee or their agents, are the expenditures of Friends of Louisiana Real Estate limited?
The Campaign Finance Disclosure Act defines a contribution as including those expenditures made by any person in cooperation, consultation, or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of a candidate, his authorized political committee, or their agents. R.S. 18:1483(6)(b)(i). In-kind contributions are subject to a contribution limit. Independent expenditures made in support or opposition to the candidacy of a person that do not constitute "in-kind" contributions are not subject to a limit; however, such expenditures over $500 must be reported in accordance with R.S. 18:1501.1.
3. May members of the Association, through its annual membership invoice, contribute to both political committees if there is a place for the member to designate each contribution separately? Yes, after reviewing R.S. 18:1491.4, a member of the Association may designate in writing what portion of the check should be attributable to each political committee. The Association should transmit that portion to the appropriate political committee. The political committee would then report the name and address of the Association member as a contributor to the political committee.
4. May the Association raise the annual dues and have the members designate on the invoice if the member wants the increase to be contributed to the Friends of Louisiana Real Estate and may that designation be in the positive or the negative? The member may designate in writing the portion to be considered a contribution to Friends of Louisiana Real Estate. It must be stated in the positive.
5. If the Association raises the dues and the member affirmatively designates the increase in dues amount that should be considered a contribution to Friends of Louisiana Real Estate, is the contribution from the Association or the member? The contribution is from the member, not the Association, and should be reported as such by Friends of Louisiana Real Estate.
The Board does not render an opinion as to laws other than the Louisiana Code of Governmental Ethics or the Campaign Finance Disclosure Act. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at (800) 842-6630 or (225)763-8777.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Kathleen M. Allen
For the Board