Unity08 (aka Unity 08) is a registered corporation with the goal of arranging the nomination of one Republican and one Democrat to become the next president and vice president of the United States of America. It declares that next year it will successfully run the first-ever national secure online presidential nomination.
Yesterday, I spoke with an elections lawyer familiar with Unity08 and its status before the Federal Election Commission (FEC). This lawyer confirmed my understanding that the FEC’s Final Advisory Opinion of October 10, 2006 declared that election law required Unity08 to register as a Political Action Committee (PAC) within 10 days time of either receiving $1,000 in donations or making $1,000 in expenditures (it has already done both — see 2Q and 3Q 2006 IRS reports). The text of the FEC Final Advisory Opinion is quite clear on this point. To quote:
Unity 08 will become a political committee once it makes more than $1,000 in expenditures. Unity 08 must register with the Commission by filing a statement of organization within ten days after becoming a political committee, and it will be subject to the provisions of the Act and Commission regulations applicable to political committees.
The Commission notes that Unity 08 must also register as a political committee if it accepts more than $1,000 in contributions.
The FEC will determine whether or not we are a political committee for FEC purposes. Obviously we will follow their opinion.
The FEC makes all statements filed available within 48 hours, and makes electronically filed statements available immediately. Yet searches of the FEC database reveal NO filing, either of a quarterly statement or of the F1 Statement of Organization explicitly referred to in the FEC’s ruling.
Furthermore, Unity08 continues to refer to itself as a 527 organization, and has explicitly and publicly declared that on January 31, 2007, it will file reports with the IRS as a 527 organization, NOT with the FEC as a PAC organization.
Why has Unity08 committed itself to ignoring its pledge to follow the FEC Final Advisory Opinion, and continued to declare itself a 527 organization rather than a PAC? We cannot know what motivates Unity08 in this regard, since Unity08 refuses to comment on the matter. PACs are required to maintain more stringent contribution limits than 527 organizations. Also, PACs must disclose more detailed information on loans — especially loans arising from sources with special, unusual terms attached.
Earlier pressure upon Unity08 prompted the organization to revise its 2nd and 3rd Quarter IRS statements to correct a number of factual errors — so we know that public pressure works. It is time to apply such public pressure again, to prompt Unity08 to behave in accordance with the law. Here’s what you can do:
1. Visit the Unity08 Forum post on which I have documented the FEC Advisory Opinion, Unity08’s pledges to follow it, and Unity08’s consequent failure to register as a PAC organization. Give the forum post your “THUMBS UP”. Posts with sufficient THUMBS UP are promoted to the front page of Unity08’s website — which will ensure that every visitor and potential donor to the organization has the opportunity to review this important information. This will keep Unity08’s registration status a viable question that the organization must either address — or very publicly refuse to address.
2. Contribute any expertise you may have here regarding the filing of a formal complaint to the FEC. Should Unity08 file with the IRS as a 527 — and not with the FEC as a PAC — on January 31, 2007, a positive action in defiance of the FEC’s Final Advisory Opinion will have occurred, making the initiation of the formal complaint process more clearly viable. If you have experience with such filings, I would greatly appreciate your advice.