An advisory opinion has been requested concerning the treatment of invitations, food, and services voluntarily provided by an individual on his or her residential premises for campaign-related activities1. The value of these services that exceeds $500 in an election is a contribution to the candidate supported. Administrative Code §3-702(8) (ii). The following questions have been posed:
1) Are these contributions expenditures subject to the expenditure limits of the New York City Campaign Finance Act?
2) If these contributions are deemed to be expenditures, and were made "in connection with the solicitation of funds", are the contributions subject to the fundraising exception to the expenditure limits, set forth in Administrative Code §3-706(5) (b) ?
3) In the following example, which payments are treated as contributions: Two unrelated individuals, A and B, maintain separate residences. Both hold a function at A's home for the purpose of supporting a candidate subject to the Act. The total cost of the invitations, food, and beverages is $950 for the function. A pays $475 of the costs and B pays the other $475 of the costs.
It is the opinion of the Board that the value of these services in excess of $500 in an election is an in-kind contribution. The Rules and Regulations of the New York State Board of Elections make clear that an in-kind contribution is also an expenditure by the candidate or committee receiving that contribution. 9 N.Y.C.R.R. §6200.6(b)
If an in-kind contribution was made "in connection with the solicitation of funds", that contribution, like any other fundraising expenditure, would be exempt from the expenditure limits, to the extent provided in Administrative Code §3-706(5) (b) (twenty percent, or $20,000, allowance for fundraising costs added to the applicable expenditure limit).
In the example described above, the $475 paid by A for the function in A's home is exempt from the definition of a contribution. Administrative Code §3-702(8) (ii). The $475 paid by B for the function in A's home is not exempt. Thus, B has made a $475 in-kind contribution to the candidate.
NEW YORK CITY CAMPAIGN FINANCE BOARD
1 For purposes of this advisory opinion, the Board has assumed that the activities described in the opinion request are not "independent of the candidate or his or her agents or political committees" within the meaning of Administrative Code §3-702(8). Independent activities are exempt from the contribution and expenditure limits. Id.; Campaign Finance Board Regulations §§101(i); 105(b) (3).