With control of the U.S. Senate at stake, hundreds of millions of dollars are expected to flow into Georgia over the next two months as voters decide the outcome of two U.S. Senate run-off elections. Donors seeking to make contributions to support their preferred candidates in these run-offs should be mindful of a variety of restrictions:
- Each of the Senate campaigns in the run-off may accept contributions of up to $2,800 per individual donor (or $5,600 per couple), even if the donor had previously donated the maximum to the candidate’s primary and/or general election campaigns.
- The general accounts of the senate campaign arms of the national political party committees—the NRSC and DSCC—may accept $35,500 annually per donor. Funds in the general accounts may be used to influence the outcome of the run-off elections. Donors who already made the maximum contributions to the general accounts of the NRSC or DSCC prior to the 2020 general election may not make a further contribution to the general accounts this year. Such “maxed out” donors may, however, contribute another $35,500 in the opening days of 2021, prior to the January 5, 2021 run-off elections, though donations cannot be earmarked for the Georgia runoffs without potentially exceeding contribution limits.
- Individuals may contribute $10,000 annually to the federal accounts of the Georgia Republican and Democratic Parties. Individuals subject to “pay-to-play” rule restrictions, such as those in the financial services industry, should consult with their compliance departments prior to making or soliciting such contributions.
In addition to the campaigns and political party committees described above, we expect many other groups to be active in the Georgia run-off elections, including Super PACs, “joint fundraising committees” that raise funds for multiple candidates or party committees simultaneously, and 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. Because special restrictions may apply to contributions to these groups, donors should first carefully vet these groups for compliance risks and optics and reputational concerns, prior to writing the contribution check or initiating the wire transfer.