|For Immediate Release
December 20, 2007
FEC Approves Matching Funds for 2008 Candidates
WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission (FEC/the Commission) has certified $19,287,504.65 in federal matching funds to seven Presidential candidates for the 2008 election. These totals reflect contributions submitted by qualified candidates (including their initial threshold submissions) through December. Additional contributions may be submitted for certification on a monthly basis.
By comparison, in 2004 the first matching fund payments totaled $15,417,353.84 to six candidates; in 2000, the first matching fund payments went to eight candidates, totaling $34,019,496.24; in 1996, 10 candidates received $37,353,967.40; in 1992, eight candidates received $6,372,788.31; in 1988, 12 candidates received a total of $28,748,261.05; In 1984, $7,771,960.41 was paid to six candidates; in 1980, $1,944,055.92 was paid to three candidates; and in 1976, 11 candidates received $1,880,502.21.
The following chart lists the amount certified to each candidate.
To become eligible for matching funds, candidates must raise a threshold amount of $100,000 by collecting $5,000 in 20 different states in amounts no greater than $250 from any individual. Other requirements to be declared eligible include agreeing to an overall spending limit of approximately $50 million, abiding by spending limits in each state, using public funds only for legitimate campaign-related expenses, keeping financial records and permitting an extensive campaign audit.
Candidates may submit requests for funds once each month. The Commission will certify an amount to be paid by the U.S. Treasury the following month. Only contributions from individuals in amounts of no more than $250 are matchable. Following the primary season, candidates may be entitled to receive additional matching funds to assist in winding down their campaigns or to retire debts. The maximum amount a candidate could receive is currently estimated to be about $21 million.
The U.S. Treasury Department may pay the FEC-certified amounts beginning in January 2008. Treasury Department regulations require that funds for the convention and general election grants be set aside before any matching fund payments are made. Information provided by the Treasury Department shows the balance in the fund as of November 30, 2007 was $166,233,140 and the Commission has estimated that no funds will be available for matching payments in January 2008. As deposits are made from tax returns in the early months of 2008, matching fund payments will be made from those deposits until all certified amounts have been paid. Based on historical patterns, the FEC estimates that funds may not be available to disburse before March 2008.
The Presidential public funding program is financed through the $3 check-off that appears on individual income tax returns. The program has three elements: grants to parties to help fund their nominating conventions, grants available to nominees to pay for the general election campaign, and matching payments to participating candidates during the primary campaign.
In June of this year the Commission certified $16,356,000 each to the Democratic and Republican parties for their conventions. The Commission estimates that each general election nominee will be eligible for a grant of approximately $85 million.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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