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Dear FEC: Don’t Tie The Hands Of The Small Campaign Donor

The Edwards campaign is in a battle with the FEC, who are trying to claim that online donations made via ActBlue constitute PAC money and therefore not eligible for matching funds. Since ActBlue allows for direct donations to candidates and does not allow them to influence where or how those funds are used, the Edwards campaign has a very strong argument.

Adam B:

Obviously, while ActBlue is a "political committee" in the strictest sense of the term, in reality it does not act as such. ActBlue is a conduit for individual contributor preferences, to track and aggregate small-dollar contributors. It asserts no control over the recipients of its funds; the site’s only criteria is that the recipient be a Democrat. It fulfills FECA’s anticorruption goals by reporting contributors’ names, addresses, employers, and occupations to campaign, which in turn provide that information to the Commission as is legally required.


There is no conceivable purpose for campaign finance law that would be served by treating the ActBlue contributions as not-matchable under the law, as ActBlue presents none of the concerns articulated by the groups otherwise covered by 11 CFR 9034.3(f), and for these purposes is more akin to a credit card processor than any other entity. This is technology being used to encourage small-dollar contributions which are at the heart of reforming our campaign system, and to treat it as "dirty money" seems ludicrous. Nothing distinguishes these from any other small-dollar contributions other than the website through which they were sent. The Commission should reject the draft opinion and allow the Edwards campaign to seek matching funds for contributions transmitted by ActBlue.

It’s an important battle that stretches beyond the Edwards campaign and has tremendous impact on the ability of small donors to come together online and counterbalance the moneyed interests whose contributions often come with a hefty pricetag.

You can send comments to the FEC via the Edwards website, write an email to FEC Commission Secretary Mary Dove directly at, or sign a letter from the Public Campaign in support. Deadline is noon eastern time today.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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