Some information presented in this publication has been modified by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).  An updated version of this publication will be available once the Commission completes its BCRA rulemakings.  In the interim, please visit the FEC’s BCRA page for additional information.


Supporting Federal Candidates: A Guide For Citizens

Independent Expenditures

Independent expenditures provide yet another way to support Federal candidates. An independent expenditure is money spent for a communication that expressly advocates the election or defeat of a candidate. It is "independent" only if the individual making the expenditure does not coordinate or consult in any way with the candidate campaign benefiting from the communication. Independent expenditures are not considered contributions and are unlimited. You may spend any amount on each communication as long as the expenditure is truly independent.

You may, for example, pay for an advertisement in a newspaper or on the radio urging the public to vote for the candidate you want elected. Or you may produce and distribute posters or yard signs telling people not to vote for a candidate you oppose.

When making an independent expenditure, you must include a notice stating that you have paid for the communication and that it is not authorized by any candidate's committee. ("Paid for by John Doe and not authorized by any candidate's committee.") Additionally, once you spend more than $250 on independent expenditures during a year, you must file a report with the Federal Election Commission, either FEC Form 5 or a signed statement containing the same information.

Because this brief explanation does not cover all you need to know before making an independent expenditure, you should first call, e-mail or write the Commission for more information.


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