Firms seek to speed up U.S. campaign donations by text message

Fri Jul 20, 2012 12:07am EDT
 
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By Alina Selyukh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The companies that pushed U.S. regulators to approve political donations via text message want to accelerate the plan and are seeking a speedy response from the Federal Election Commission to the concerns of wireless carriers.

Political consultancy Armour Media Inc and m-Qube Inc, an aggregator that serves as a middleman between wireless carriers and campaigns, have joined with U.S. Representative Jim Cooper in asking the FEC to clarify the process. Among other things, they want to know who would be responsible for ensuring text donations do not breach the numerous federal regulations and limits on political giving.

Their new request for an advisory opinion, posted online on Thursday, is an attempt to speed up implementation of text donations, which have been approved but not yet launched because of wireless carriers' legal concerns.

(To read the document please see: tinyurl.com/7lpmrm5)

The phone companies have a similar request pending with the FEC, asking to specify who would determine donors' eligibility or whether they might have to alter legal and business practices to stay out of political hot water. That request has not yet been acted on.

M-Qube wants the FEC to respond to its request on Wednesday for an advisory opinion in 20 days. Speedy consideration is warranted because Cooper, who would benefit from text donations, is on the ballot in the August 2 Democratic primary in Tennessee, and the presidential nominating conventions of Republicans and Democrats are within the next 60 days.

The FEC is required to act within 20 days on any request involving a candidate whose election is within 60 days.

The campaigns of Democratic President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have told the FEC they support text-message donations, approved by the regulators in June in a ruling that was expected to mark a profound change in the U.S. campaign finance system by allowing cell-phone users to make instant anonymous donations.   Continued...