We at the Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) are keeping a weather eye on this quiet little ruling yesterday by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) whereby they granted a California-based company“approval to provide its users with a searchable database of political campaigns and committees, as well as the ability to transmit direct contributions and affiliate shopping rebates to the political campaigns and committee(s) of their choice.” From Campaign Insider:
The launch of GivingSphere, founded by Silicon Valley-based Social Financial Inc., could multiply the number of small donors engaged in the political process. The website allows shoppers to earn cash rebates on purchases at participating retailers and use those funds for political contributions, according to a release. GivingSphere is “a hub where donors can search, bookmark and donate to their own personal ‘portfolio’ of causes.”
Some here at CCP see this venture — if it does indeed simply offer a searchable database to consumers that they can then use to make voluntary donations without encouragement from the business (except in that they offer the ability to use rebates for contributions) — as a potential new trend in grassroots fundraising. Others worry that it will provide companies the opporutnity to abuse the system by setting up a system of rebates and then encouraging the consumer to use that money specifically for candidates beneficial to that business, similar to the case of a fundraiser for the John Liu campaign charged with illegally funnelling money into his employer’s campaign coffers.
Either way, the ruling is an interesting new twist. And in stores just in time for the Christmas shopping surge.