Maine Senate candidate asks for FEC permission to use federal contractor services 'pro bono'

Federal contractors are not allowed to make “directly or indirectly, any contribution or expenditure of money or other thing of value, or to promise expressly or impliedly to make any such contribution or expenditure, to any political committee or other person for any political purpose or use,” Angus King for U.S. Senate Campaign Treasurer J. Maurice Bisson wrote.

Bisson pointed to the definition of contribution as a possible issue for the campaign's use of the services. A contribution could be monetary “or anything of value,” which normally would include legal services.

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However, Bisson noted a previous advisory opinion response to Jenkens & Gilchrist prohibiting the firm from “donating litigation services to a federal congressional candidate … because the services did not fall within the exception … for legal services solely to ensure compliance.” The opinion indicates a law firm that serves as a federal contractor can provide legal services to campaigns to provide compliance advice, Bisson argued.

King’s campaign also requested clarification as to whether law firm staff, including partners and associates, could legally volunteer “in the form of legal or other personal services to the Campaign.” If the firm’s staff volunteers individually, then the services should not be defined as a contribution, Bisson noted.

“The Act exempts from the definition of ‘contribution’ ‘the value of services provided without compensation by any individual who volunteers on behalf of a candidate or political committee,’  Bisson wrote in the request.

“PA’s status as a federal contractor would not undercut a PA partner’s ability to make an uncompensated contribution of volunteer time.”