Regulation of Text Message Contributions
Proposed Rules: Closed to Comments
Statement of Basis and Purpose of Proposed Rules
In November 2013, the City Council passed Local Law 116 of 2013 (“LL 116”), which amended the City Administrative Code to permit candidates running for offices covered by the Campaign Finance Act (“Act”) to accept contributions via text message. The local law also makes text message contributions matchable with public funds, so long as all eligibility requirements under the Campaign Finance Program are met.
To comply with LL 116, the Board is proposing amendments to its rules. The proposed rules set minimum requirements for receiving text message contributions so that the Board can evaluate compliance with the Act and Board rules and eligibility for matching public funds. Specifically, the proposed rules:
- establish that public funds will not be used to match text message contributions until after those contributions are paid via the contributor’s phone bill and delivered by a mobile fundraising vendor to a candidate’s authorized committee;
- establish record keeping requirements for text message contributions, including records relating to the mobile fundraising vendor, the contributor, and the registered user of the mobile device used to make the contribution; and
- require a contributor to certify that he or she is the registered user of the phone and that the contribution will be made from his or her personal funds.
The proposed amendments do not prescribe any method for candidates to use in accepting text message contributions. The Board welcomes and encourages comments about ways to match contributions earlier in the process, including the feasibility of matching payments from a mobile fundraising vendor before delivery of a contributor’s funds to a candidate’s authorized committee.
Because the Board cannot anticipate every requirement that may apply to text message contributions, following the adoption of the final rules, the Board will also update training materials and other published guidance to assist candidates in ensuring that their receipt of text message contributions from contributors via mobile fundraising complies with all requirements of the Act and Board rules. For example, if a candidate receives aggregate contributions, whether by text message or other means, totaling more than $99 from a contributor during an election cycle, the candidate will have to solicit employment information to comply with section 3‑03(c)(4)-(6) of the Board rules. Similarly, if a candidate receives aggregate contributions, whether by text message or other means, from a contributor over an election cycle that reach the “doing business” limits, a candidate will be required to inquire whether the contributor is doing business with New York City in accordance with section 3‑703(1‑b) of the City Administrative Code. These and other similar issues will be addressed in training materials.
The Board’s authority for these rules is found in sections 1043 and 1052(a)(8) of the City Charter, sections 3-703(1-c), 3-703(1)(g), and 3-708(8) of the City Administrative Code, and section 4 of LL 116.