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1990-1: Contributions Received For Advertisements Promoting Businesses Owned By Contributors as Threshold/Matchable Contributions

March 27, 1990

An opinion has been requested whether contributions issued on personal checks and received for advertisements in a fundraising journal which promote the businesses owned by the contributors may qualify as threshold or matchable contributions.

For purposes of this opinion, the Board assumes that the fundraising journal is a publication of the authorized committee of a candidate participating in the Campaign Finance Program and that the journal is distributed at fundraising events to thank or acknowledge supporters of the candidate. The request states that advertising space in the journal is available at a price set by the authorized committee. The authorized committee pays for the printing and distribution costs of the journal, and proceeds are deposited in a bank account of the authorized committee for use during the candidate's campaign.

A payment to a candidate or to a candidate's authorized committee for advertising space in a fundraising journal clearly constitutes a contribution, as defined in Administrative Code §3-702(8) (c) ("any payment...made in connection with the nomination for election, or election, of any candidate").

The contribution for the journal advertisement may qualify as a threshold or matchable contribution if it is made by a "natural person resident in the city of New York" and "contributed on or before" December 31 of the election year. Administrative Code §3-702(2), (3). Because the advertisement promotes a business, the contributor has received a valuable service "in connection with" the contribution. Id. The reasonable value of this service must be deducted from the gross amount contributed for the advertisement, in order to determine the portion of the contribution which qualifies as a threshold or matchable contribution. Id.