CTIA, the wireless industry trade group, released guidelines Wednesday for federal candidates looking to accept political donations through text messages.
The “Guidelines for Federal Political Campaign Contributions via Wireless Carrier’s Bill” summarize recent advisory opinions from the Federal Election Commission that identify when text-to-donate is permissible for political committees. They also recommend “best practices” for wireless carriers to ensure donor eligibility and contribution limits, and to maintain proper records when text-to-donate services are provided to political committees.
“Beginning with the 2008 election, we saw political campaigns engage one-on-one with potential voters using mobile technology,” said Steve Largent, President and CEO of CTIA, in a statement. “The Guidelines seek to ensure that donors, who contribute via text, will have confidence in knowing their donation will be going to their chosen candidate, committee or party to help them in their next campaign.”
Proper procedures for carriers include ensuring donors have U.S.-based mobile numbers and keeping political rates similar to commercial rates to avoid an in-kind contribution. The guidelines add carriers may turn political committees away at their discretion.
Wireless aggregators are advised to run a factoring service for each political committee customer and confirm donor intent and eligibility. It also falls on aggregators to send that information, as well as the donor’s number, donation amount and date to campaigns.
Contribution limits are $50 per billing cycle and $200 per election cycle. Political committees are solely responsible for ensuring contributions are lawful under the FEC’s rules.
It’s worth noting carriers maintain the right to amend, add to or waive CTIA’s recommendation, including lowering the FEC’s maximum contribution limits. The full set of guidelines can be found here.