Guidelines for Employee Political Contributions

The next United State's president will be elected in November, and candidates and their supporters are actively fundraising now. You are free to donate to any candidate you wish, but there are rules that affect your financial contributions at work. Know the guidelines for employee political contributions as you support your favorite candidate.

The Federal Election Campaign Act limits the amount of money an individual can contribute to candidates who run for a federal office. Those limits are $2,700 per federal candidate, $5,000 per state, district or local party committee and $100,200 total per year.

The Act also prohibits employers from forcing employees to make political contributions. In the weeks leading up to the 2012 presidential election, a senior executive at an Ohio company allegedly forced employees to contribute to the political action committee established by the company.

That action is illegal, but it's not unusual. Many individuals have strong feelings about their favorite political candidates. In their zeal to see their candidate get elected, they may use their positions of authority to coerce employees to donate money.

FEC regulations list several examples of ways employers can force employees to make political contributions. They can threaten to demote or fire you, lower your pay rate or insist that you support a fundraiser.

While the Federal Election Campaign Act limits individual contributions during federal elections, it also prohibits certain contributions that are solicited or unsolicited, given as a gift, in-kind contribution or loan and used for any purpose, including advertising, travel or office supplies. You cannot contribute if you:

  • Donate with the intent to influence federal elections
  • Are a sole proprietor and have a government contract
  • Are a foreign national who does not have permanent U.S. residency
  • Donate more than $100 cash
  • Make a contribution in someone else's name
  • Are a corporation, national bank or labor organization not associated with a political action committee or PAC
There is a fine line between forcing and encouraging employees to support a certain candidate. If your employer participates in any of these tactics, file a complaint with the FEC at

Several states also have labor laws that affect political actions. In these states, an employer cannot pressure employees to participate in political activities of any kind.

 If you're the employer who's passionate about a certain politician, you can support your candidate. Be sure to follow the law, though. Share your ideas with your attorney to make sure your actions are legal.  

2016 is an important election year, and the pressure to push hard for a certain candidate is tempting. Understand the rules about political donations as you support your favorite candidate and obey the law.
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