FEC Votes to Expand Federal Candidates’ Ability to Pay Themselves

FEC Votes to Expand Federal Candidates' Ability to Pay Themselves


The Federal Election Commission says the move will further eliminate barriers to holding public office facing regular Americans.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is expanding the ability of candidates running for federal office to pay themselves using their campaign funds.

On Dec. 14, the nonpartisan FEC voted to revise its regulations on how candidates for public office are eligible to use money from their principal campaign committee to compensate themselves.

The Final Rules of REG 2021-01 (Candidate Salaries) will be published in the Federal Register at a future date, according to a release from the FEC.

An FEC memorandum dated Dec. 7, states that the draft final rule approved by the FEC on Thursday said campaign funds from a principal campaign committee can continue to be used to pay compensation to the candidate that is “not [for] personal use.”

“Provided that the compensation does not exceed the lesser of 50 percent of the minimum annual salary paid to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives … and the average annual income that the candidate earned during the most recent five calendar years in which the candidate earned income prior to becoming a candidate,” the memorandum said.

According to the FEC, the minimum annual salary for a member of the House is $174,000.

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“Limiting candidate compensation in this way helps protect against personal enrichment from one’s candidacy and is tailored to real financial need,” the memo said.

“Moreover, the record before the Commission does not establish the need for salaries exceeding this amount, with near-universal agreement in comments that changes to the Commission’s regulations were needed to allow individuals of modest means to run for office.”

The rule will allow candidates to begin drawing a salary from their principal campaign committee the day they file a statement of candidacy. Under previous rules adopted in 2002, candidates could not be paid from their campaign funds “before the filing deadline for access to the primary election ballot for the federal office that the candidate seeks, as determined by state law, or January 1 of each even-numbered year in states that do not conduct primaries.”

 Federal Election Commission Chair Dara Lindenbaum testifies before the Committee on House Administration in Washington on Sept. 20, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Federal Election Commission Chair Dara Lindenbaum testifies before the Committee on House Administration in Washington on Sept. 20, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)

Breaking Barriers

in a statement, FEC Chair Dara Lindenbaum and FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, said they were “pleased” with the new regulations.

The rule will eliminate barriers to running for office that lower-income Americans face, they said.

“We are proud of the work we have done at the Commission to bring this rulemaking across the finish line,” Ms. Lindenbaum and Ms. Weintraub said. “We know that many of the changes in these final rules will help ordinary, working-class Americans to participate in our political process and to represent their communities by running for federal office.”

The joint statement opposed its cap on pay, saying that the work of running for public office often exceeds the 40 hours a week an American typically works to earn a living. They also opposed limiting the eligibility for payment to 20 days after a campaign ends, citing the numerous wind-down duties and reporting activities that are legally required.

In a statement, FEC Commissioner Allen Dickerson, a Republican, said the regulation is not “perfect” but “is an enormous improvement upon the status quo.”

“This regulation is not an invitation to simply pay a candidate for being a candidate, nor does it put the Commission in the strange position of setting a market price for candidate services—whatever that might mean,” he said.

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