DISCLAIMER: The content of this informational packet applies only to federal campaign activities and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult your counsel for legal advice regarding specific federal campaign activities and local and state matters.
Appearances By a Candidate
Interaction with candidates (who may also be incumbents) is important. It provides companies with an opportunity to either initiate or strengthen a relationship with a candidate who may represent it and its employees, if elected or re-elected to Congress. Through such relationships, companies have the ability to educate candidates on issues important to construction and how legislative action affects the industry, the company, and its employees.
Per federal election regulations, certain rules apply depending upon the makeup of the audience.
- Before the restricted class: A candidate can be endorsed or presented with an AGC PAC check for his or her campaign. He or she may also solicit contributions or volunteers for the campaign. Any items distributed by the company cannot be content or materials from a candidate’s campaign. The company must create original content for reproduction and distribution. The company is also prohibited from distributing campaign materials that can facilitate a contribution, such as a campaign contribution form or reply envelope. With the restricted class audience, the company does not have to provide equal time to other candidates wishing to speak to employees.
- Before employees outside of the restricted class: A candidate cannot be endorsed or presented with an AGC PAC check. He or she may ask for support and leave behind information on how employees can contribute or volunteer, but the company cannot solicit or direct contributions to the candidate. The company must be prepared to provide an equal opportunity to the candidate's opponent(s), but only upon request.
Events With a Candidate
Meeting candidates face-to-face is a memorable experience that can make a big impact come Election Day. Companies are allowed to host candidates under a variety of circumstances. Companies can:
- Invite a candidate to give a presentation to employees on an issue of interest.
- Invite a candidate to participate in a ribbon-cutting or special ceremony with employees.
- Present a candidate with a “good citizenship” or “community leadership” award that recognizes accomplishments.
- Invite a candidate to the office for a meet & greet or jobsite for a tour.
Please note that these events may be subject to federal lobbying disclosure laws as well as congressional gift rules. If you are conducting one of these events for all of your employees during a campaign season, there are election rules that need to be observed. Should an opposing candidate request a similar meeting, federal election law requires that you provide a comparable experience for him or her. If it is only a company's restricted class attending the event, you are not required to grant such a request by an opposing candidate.
Meet & Greets
When a candidate is visiting with general employees in a "meet and greet" fashion, it is not permissible for the company to endorse the candidate or to discuss the campaign. However, the company may endorse a particular candidate in meetings with its restricted class. In either case, the candidate is free to discuss the campaign in his or her remarks and conversations. If the campaign is discussed by the company to an audience that includes employees outside of the restricted class, a comparable opportunity must be provided to the candidate’s opponent(s), if requested.
Like meet and greet events, jobsite tours are also a great way to promote the construction industry with candidates. These events provide a unique learning opportunity for candidates to better understand the construction industry and advance relationships between AGC of America, AGC chapters, and member companies. These events expose candidates to the industry, showcase AGC member companies, and build relationships with key decision makers. Download AGC's jobsite tour brochure as it will provide your company with information on how to successfully plan and execute a successful jobsite visit with an elected official from the invitation to the thank you notes.
The relationship with a candidate can be strengthened by hosting a fundraiser for his or her election. If a company is interested in hosting an event, it needs to be made aware of the specific rules and regulations.
- Campaign-hosted event (recommended): AGC recommends allowing a campaign to host a fundraising event. Should the event take place at a member company location, the campaign would need to pay the fair market value for use of the space. If employees are used to send invitations, take RSVPs, manage catering, etc. then the campaign must be charged for these costs. An individual acting on his or her own behalf can suggest to others that they make a contribution, but anyone acting on behalf of the company, or using company resources, would be prohibited from doing so.
- Company-hosted event: A company may host an event for a candidate, but it can only invite the employees in its restricted class. Guests are generally prohibited from attending, but the company is allowed to have several staff members on hand to help manage the event. Individuals acting on behalf of the company can suggest supporting the candidate, but cannot handle or accept any campaign contributions before, during, or after the event.