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Official Opinion 94-16

Official Opinion 94-16

April 11, 1994
To: 

Chairman
State Ethics Commission

Re: 

O.C.G.A. § 21-5-43 limits local labor unions which are "established, financed, maintained, or controlled" by the same labor organization to making contributions for any one candidate not to exceed the total aggregate maximum contribution provided for in that Code Section; whether any such local unions are deemed to be so affiliated with one labor organization is a question to be determined on a case by case basis.

This is in response to your request for my opinion asking whether different local chapters of the same labor union can each make maximum campaign contributions for the same election. For purposes of this opinion, I will refer to the applicable provisions of the Ethics in Government Act, O.C.G.A. § 21-5-1 et seq., which are in force and effect on the date of the issuance of this opinion.

For purposes of determining the maximum amount of contributions permitted to an individual candidate for office, a labor union

would be categorized as a "political committee," defined as "any partnership, committee, club, association, organization, . . . or similar entity (other than a corporation) or any other group of persons or entities which makes a contribution." O.C.G.A. § 21-5-40(6). The maximum allowable campaign contributions for any election by a political committee are set forth in O.C.G.A. § 21-5-43, and the maximum allowable aggregate amount would include "any contributions to the same candidate for the same election by any affiliated political committees." "Affiliated committees" are defined as follows: "[A]ny two or more political committees (including a separate segregated fund) established, financed, maintained, or controlled by the same corporation, labor organization, person, or group of persons, including any parent, subsidiary, branch, division, department, or local unit thereof." O.C.G.A. § 21-5-40(1) (emphasis added).

Therefore, when two or more labor unions are "established, financed, maintained, or controlled" by the same labor organization, the maximum amount of contributions which can be made to a candidate for statewide elected office or to a member of the General Assembly is the single amount set forth in O.C.G.A. § 21-5-43. Whether individual local unions are "established, financed, maintained, or controlled" by the same labor organization can only be determined on a case by case basis depending upon the specific factual circumstances.

Based on the foregoing, it is my official opinion that O.C.G.A. § 21-5-43 limits local labor unions which are "established, financed, maintained, or controlled" by the same labor organization to making contributions for any one candidate not to exceed the total aggregate maximum contribution provided for in that Code Section; whether any such local unions are deemed to be so affiliated with one labor organization is a question to be determined on a case by case basis.

Prepared by:

MARK H. COHEN
Senior Assistant Attorney General


In 1994, the General Assembly enacted S.B. 657 which, among other things, amends the Ethics in Government Act to increase the amount of contributions that candidates may receive and to provide for the receipt of campaign contributions during both election and nonelection years. Portions of that legislation have different effective dates, and the matters contained therein cannot be enforced until the Act is precleared by the United States Department of Justice under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended, 42 U.S.C. § 1973c. However, the conclusion expressed in this opinion will remain unaltered by the 1994 legislation.