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“In-kind contribution.” It’s a term that shows up in campaign finance stories a lot lately. But what exactly does it mean? Here’s a rough analogy before we get into all the nitty gritty:

If a friend owes you $100 but, instead of cash, she pays you with a watch worth $100, that’s an “in-kind” payment. The key is exchanging something of value.

Here’s the way the Federal Election Commission outlines in-kind political contributions that must be reported:

— Goods or services offered for free or at least less than the usual charge. Let’s say, hosting a golf tournament fundraiser for a candidate but not charging the campaign for using the course.

— Payments made by somebody for services on a campaign committee’s behalf. Like a billionaire buying 18 months’ worth of pizzas for the campaign staff.

— Expenditures made by a person in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate’s campaign. This could take many shapes, including, perhaps, a payment of hush money to make a problem go away for a donor’s favored candidate.

The FEC also provides guidance on how to calculate the value of these contributions. A donated computer is tallied at market value. Likewise, someone giving a service — like printing fliers or banners — has to mark down the commercial rate for the service.

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There are a few limited exemptions for volunteer work. One example: You can volunteer to hold a campaign event in your home and spend up to $1,000 on food, drinks and invitations without it being reported by the candidate’s committee. All these FEC rules seem simple compared to the entanglements that result in fines.

Three examples from the past:

During Michele Bachmann’s …read more

Source:: Newsy Headlines


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