Carriage of Elected Officials and Candidates

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Updated February 12, 2010

Federal Election Commission Rules

The Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 significantly changed the law with respect to the carriage of candidates for election and other campaign travelers on non-commercial aircraft. In order to fully implement these changes, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) promulgated new rules governing the carriage of federal candidates on private aircraft during election campaigns.

The new rules apply to any individual traveling in connection with an election for Federal office. It is important to note that the FEC rules only apply to candidates seeking Federal office. The FEC definition of a candidate is rather broad so many currently elected federal officials would meet the definition and be subject to the new rules.

To learn more these new rules, review a new article prepared for NBAA Members.

Overview of FEC Rules for Use of Non-Commercial Aircraft

Effective January 6, 2010, the following rules apply to federal candidates regarding use of private aircraft:

  • Presidential and U.S. Senate Candidates: Required to pay the full charter rate for an aircraft large enough to accommodate all campaign travelers that is comparable in make/ model and features similar amenities to the aircraft used for the trip. The full charter rate quote must be obtained within seven days of the start of the trip.
  • U.S. House of Representatives Candidates: Prohibited from using non-commercial aircraft to travel on behalf of their campaigns or leadership PACs.

State and Local Elected Officials and Candidates

On January 31, 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule amending 14 CFR 91.321 to permit an aircraft operator to receive payment for carrying a candidate seeking office in a State or local election during a campaign. Previously, that regulation only allowed operators to receive payment for candidates seeking office in Federal elections. Congress directed the FAA to change 91.321 in Public Law 104-264, thus the issuance of the final rule. When a candidate in a State or local election travels on board an aircraft, the state or local election laws must be used to determine the amount to be reimbursement.

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