Agenda Item
Docket No. 24-159
Advisory opinion request concerning the ability of CenterPoint Energy to make a matching contribution to a charitable organization if its employees make a contribution to a political committee.
CenterPoint Energy would like to match a contribution made by its employee to its political committee by making a contribution to a 501c(3) organization. There would be no tax benefit to either the employee who made the contribution to the political committee or the corporation who made the payment to the 501c(3) organization.

La. R.S. 18:1505.2D provides that "[n]o person shall knowingly coerce or attempt to coerce another person to give or withhold a contribution."

La. R.S. 18:1483(6) defines "Contribution" as (a) except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, means a gift, conveyance, payment, or deposit of money or anything of value, or the forgiveness of a loan or of a debt, made for the purpose of supporting, opposing, or otherwise influencing the nomination or election of a person to public office, for the purpose of supporting or opposing a proposition or question submitted to the voters, or for the purpose of supporting or opposing the recall of a public officer, whether made before or after the election.

(b) "Contribution" shall also include, without limitation:

(i) Contributions in-kind made for any of the purposes stated in this Paragraph, having an attributable monetary value in excess of twenty-five dollars. Contributions in-kind shall include without limitation: the donation by any person, other than a candidate or a political committee, of the services of paid employees, the value of which services exceeds twenty-five dollars, such value to be the amount paid for such services; the donation of, or the donation of the right to use, any item of tangible property when the same is used or consumed and not exchanged or converted to cash or the equivalent of cash and when the accepting candidate, the chairman of the accepting political committee, or accepting person required to file reports under this Chapter and the campaign treasurer of such recipient, if any, determines that its value or the use value, when only the right of use is given, exceeds twenty-five dollars and such determination shall be prima facie evidence of the correctness of the valuation of the item or of the use value when applicable. In addition, successive donations made by the same person, which donations individually are valued below twenty-five dollars but which together exceed such amount, shall be deemed to be in-kind contributions and shall be aggregated for purposes of the requirements of this Chapter. Contributions shall also include expenditures made by any person in cooperation, consultation, or concert, with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, his authorized political committees, or their agents and shall be considered to be a contribution to such candidate.

(ii) A promissory note or written contract to make a contribution as defined above.

(iii) A payment to purchase campaign paraphernalia, such as campaign pins, buttons, badges, flags, emblems, hats, shirts, banners, literature, and similar items, other than expenditures made by a candidate or political committee to purchase its own paraphernalia.

(iv) A payment for tickets to a testimonial or similar fund-raising event.

(c) "Contribution" shall not include:

(i) Personal services provided voluntarily by any person without compensation or by any person who is employed for purposes other than solely campaign purposes by the reporting candidate, by a partnership of which he is a member, or by a corporation of which he owns a majority of the stock.

(ii) Any dues or membership fees of any membership organization or corporation made by its members or stockholders, if such membership organization or corporation is not organized primarily for the purpose of supporting, opposing or otherwise influencing the nomination for election, or election, of any person to public office. However, any funds of such an organization or corporation used for the purpose of contributions to candidates or committees or to publicly advocate support or defeat of a candidate or for expenditures as defined in this Chapter shall be reportable and all contributions made by such membership organization or corporation which are otherwise reportable under the provisions of this Chapter shall be reported.

(iii) A transfer of funds between political committees.

(iv) A loan.

(d) A contribution of anything of value other than money or an in-kind contribution shall be considered for all purposes of this Chapter as a contribution of money in the amount of the fair market value thereof.
Adopt draft of advisory opinion.
Assigned Attorney: Kathleen Allen
2024-159- Ethics Opinion Request
2024-159 - Advisory Opinion Draft - Braxton