The Federal Election Commission ("FEC") has granted limited approval for federal candidates, political committees, and political parties to collect political contributions through text message campaigns. That approval was granted in Advisory Opinion 2012-17 (m-Qube I) as clarified in Advisory Opinion 2012-26 (m-Qube II) and Advisory Opinion 2012-28 (CTIA II).1 The FEC's approval was predicated on the requirements outlined below. Wireless service providers should be aware of these requirements and may want to consider incorporating them, as appropriate, into their agreements to collect federal political contributions through text message campaigns.
- The wireless customer must have a U.S.-based mobile number.
- The terms and rates of each agreement to provide political contribution text messaging services should generally be consistent with those in agreements for other commercial text message campaigns.2
Wireless carriers may decide, consistent with CTIA II, to accept only proposals from some political committees and not others.3 Participating federal candidates, political committees, or political parties must be registered with the FEC, http://www.fec.gov/portal/searchable.shtml.4 Only one short code may be used by each participating federal candidate, political committee, or political party.
- Qualified political organization leasing a short code must comply with all wireless carrier rules and requirements as well as MMA Consumer Best Practices and CTIA Audit Standards, including any special rules pertaining to political organizations.
The connection aggregator must employ a factoring service with each participating federal candidate, political committee, or political party consistent with the requirements detailed in m-Qube I. When a wireless user sends the mobile-originated message to a candidate's short code, the connection aggregator must respond to (a) confirm the user's intent to make a contribution that will be charged to the user's bill, and (b) certify the user's eligibility to make the contribution under federal campaign finance law. Examples of the certifications described at (b) that were approved by the FEC on behalf of the connection aggregator m-Qube, as well as additional explanation by the FEC, follow:
- Per FEC AO 2012-17, in order to ensure that contributions for any one mobile number do not exceed legal thresholds, each qualified political organization can only receive donations through a single dedicated short code.
- Only one aggregator may provide services for the short code.
- Qualified political organizations may mix communications, solicitation and mobile donations under their unique code, so long as a separate opt-in for each type of activity is obtained and all activity on the code complies with MMA Guidelines.
- To give $[5-10-15-20] to Romney reply YES. U certify ur 18+ & donating with own funds, not foreign national or Fed contractor. Terms m-qube.com/r Msg&Data Rates may Apply
- To give $[5-10-15-20] to Obama reply YES. U certify ur 18+ & donating with own funds, not foreign national or Fed contractor. Terms m-qube.com/o Msg&Data Rates May Apply
- The embedded hyperlinks within these certifications, when opened by users of smartphones, will send users to a webpage that includes an unabbreviated certification. The webpage will also explain terms such as "foreign national" and "Federal contractor", indicate that charges will include processing fees that will reduce the amount of the contribution received by the participating federal candidate, political committee, or political party, and include all disclosures required for political fundraising solicitations.