Campaigns & Elections: Questions surround text-to-donate

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Campaigns & Elections: Questions surround text-to-donate

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By Dave Nyczepir, Campaigns & Elections Magazine 

WASHINGTON —  Setting up a text-to-donate regime in time for political campaigns to cash in before November looks increasingly like a long shot…

CTIA wants the FEC to clarify which party is responsible for determining the eligibility of contributors, along with ensuring that wireless carriers are not tasked with compliance. Its AOR asks the FEC to explicitly assign such responsibilities “to the connection aggregators and the participating political committees alone.”  …

The AOR also asks whether wireless providers will be required to make text-to-donate programs available to all candidates and political committees, or whether providers can establish their own criteria for which campaigns will be eligible. Carriers might limit participation—excluding fringe candidates or political committees altogether—if the FEC consents.

[Wireless carriers] don’t want to be in the position where they have to validate if someone is actually a candidate,

says Erik Nilsson, vice president of the compliance firm CMDI.

That gets difficult down the ballot.

If the FEC makes carriers offer text-to-donate across the board, it could require developing an underwriting process to validate whether a customer really is a candidate running for office…

The telecom industry, says Nilsson, is much like a bank—risk averse. While aggregators see an untapped market following the FEC’s initial decision, carriers see an unproven one.

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