FEC Approves Use of Text Messaging to Donate to Campaigns

Posted June 12, 2012 at 9:01am

In a move hailed by watchdogs and candidates on both sides of the aisle, the Federal Election Commission has approved using mobile text messaging to make campaign contributions.

The FEC unanimously cleared the way for donations via text message in an advisory opinion late Monday. The plan has been under consideration for several months, but the FEC has been hashing out technical details to ensure that the leap into mobile technology does not open the way for abuses, such as donations in excess of contribution limits.

The commission was responding to a request submitted by the political consulting firms Red Blue T and ArmourMedia, and by the mobile company m-Qube. Under the plan released Monday, a donor may make political contributions one of two ways. The donor may text a candidate’s political committee directly using a five- or six-digit number known as a “short code,” or enter his or her cell phone number onto a campaign website in lieu of a credit card number.

Both President Barack Obama and presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney had asked the FEC to approve the plan, as had several Democrats on Capitol Hill. Proponents of donations via text message have argued that it presents an antidote to unrestricted super PACs by encouraging small donors. The plan takes effect immediately.