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Q&A: Permissible use of unspent campaign funds

Permitted use of unspent funds

This will be a record fundraising season for the 2012 elections. When candidates withdraw or lose an election, what happens to any unspent funds?

The Federal Elections Commission has a detailed brochure that outlines what candidates who lose or withdraw can and can't do with contributions. You can see the brochure at www.fec.gov/pdf/candgui.pdf.

According to law, contributions may NOT be converted for personal use. Among automatic personal-use designations are: household food items and supplies, funeral expenses, clothing for political functions (such as a tuxedo or dress), personal mortgage or rent fees, dues or fees to clubs or other nonpolitical organizations, admission to entertainment events, investments.

Among the things contributions can be used for, according to an FEC spokeswoman and the brochure:

• They may be returned to contributors.

• They may be used to pay down debt incurred in a campaign.

• Contributions left over from a race can be donated to a legitimate nonprofit organization or to any national, state or local party committee.

• They may be kept and used for a campaign in another election cycle.

• They may be used to repay personal money a candidate has loaned to his or her campaign.

• They may be used to cover travel expenses for a spouse and children, if the travel is related to the officeholder's job.

• They may be used for gifts for nonfamily members.

Ins and outs of dual citizenship

In an increasing number of reports, the media refers to some U.S. citizens as "dual citizens," then names another country. I understood that the U.S. government prohibited dual citizenship for U.S. citizens. Has this law changed?

According to the State Department website (travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1753.html): "The U.S. Government recognizes that dual nationality exists but does not encourage it as a matter of policy because of the problems it may cause. Claims of other countries on dual national U.S. citizens may conflict with U.S. law, and dual nationality may limit U.S. Government efforts to assist citizens abroad. The country where a dual national is located generally has a stronger claim to that person's allegiance."

It also says: "U.S. law does not mention dual nationality or require a person to choose one citizenship or another. Also, a person who is automatically granted another citizenship does not risk losing U.S. citizenship. However, a person who acquires a foreign citizenship by applying for it may lose U.S. citizenship. In order to lose U.S. citizenship, the law requires that the person must apply for the foreign citizenship voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up U.S. citizenship."

Q&A: Permissible use of unspent campaign funds 08/22/11 [Last modified: Monday, August 22, 2011 3:02pm]
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