Wireless carriers resist allowing campaign donations by text

The major wireless companies are expressing concern about plans to allow political campaigns to collect donations through text messages.

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), wireless industry trade group CTIA worried that the decision to allow text donations will impose new legal responsibilities on carriers.

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The FEC approved a plan, supported by both President Obama's and Mitt Romney's presidential campaigns, last month to legalize text donations. The donations will be limited to a maximum of $50 per user, per month and would not be open to corporations, foreign nationals or people younger than 18 years old.

Campaigns are hopeful that the move will make it easier for donors to give to their preferred candidates. Watchdog groups also supported the decision, saying it would allow smaller donors to compete with the expected flood of outside spending made possible by the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United.

But the wireless carriers asked the FEC to clarify that it is the responsibility of the campaigns — and not the carriers — to ensure that the donations comply with all legal requirements. 

The carriers, which include Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, argued that requiring them to verify the eligibility of a donor is "simply neither practicable nor workable."

The companies also asked the FEC to confirm that normal texting charges would still apply to political donations and that campaigns would not be exempt from anti-spamming rules. 

Reuters first reported on the the letter, which was sent to the FEC last week and obtained by The Hill on Monday.