Who Actually Gets The Contribution?

Stituency allows you to earmark a contribution for a representative, or their opponent, based on the outcome of a vote on a piece of legislation for the following campaign cycle (primary or general). In the simplest and most-common case, the rules for determining which candidate gets your contribution will be simple:

If the representative voted the way you asked them to, the representative is owed the contribution.
If the representative voted opposite of what you asked, or abstained, the opponent is owed the contribution.

Because of the nature of how legislation gets passed and the fact that representatives can opt to retire, there are quite a few different possibilities for when and to whom the money gets paid in the non-simple cases. We’ll break down the possibilities here.

Determining which bill should be used

A given piece of legislation can be introduced many different times with many different names. Stituency will work to make sure the spirit of your conditional contribution is honored by grouping bills that clearly apply to the same topic. Then, for any contribution tied to any of those related bills, the bill that will be used to determine where the contribution goes will be the last one that has a meaningful vote.

For instance, let’s assume that a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act is introduced and you tie a contribution to that bill. Then, over the next few months, 3 new bills are introduced that also attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Stituency will mark all of those bills as being related to each other. Regardless of which bill gets the final vote, a contribution to any of them will work as if they were applied to the final bill.

Determining which vote should be used

Once a bill is determined, the next step is to determine which vote was the most impactful. For a bill that passes, the answer is obvious. Bills that fail are trickier though. Bills do not always fail because of a direct up or down vote on the given bill. In the lifespan of a bill, many votes take place on the process for the bill and the amendments applied to it. For a bill that ultimately fails, any one of these votes could be its death-knell. When that happens, Stituency will determine which vote was ultimately the cause of the bill to fail.

Determining whether the “representative” or the “opponent” receives the contribution

Things are straightforward if the bill made it to the floor and there was a vote on it. In that case:

If the representative voted the way you asked them to, the representative is owed the contribution.
If the representative voted opposite of what you asked, or abstained, the opponent is owed the contribution.

However, if a bill never gets a vote on the floor, we’ll use the following rules to determine whether they supported the bill:

If the representative voted on the bill in committee, that vote becomes the vote of record.
If the representative in question was a sponsor or cosponsor of the bill, that would count as an affirmative vote for the bill.
For high-profile bills, if a representative makes a public statement in support or against the bill, and the vote never happens, that statement will be used to determine support. Note, statements in support of or against a bill must happen before a bill is removed from consideration.
If none of the above apply, it will be assumed that the candidates would have voted along partisan lines.
Who is the “opponent”?

Stituency allows you to choose whether you want the contribution to be paid to the opponent in the primary or the general election. There can be many opponents in either of those races. The opponent will be determined by using the following rules:

If there is one opponent for the given race, that person will be chosen.
If there are multiple opponents, the opponent with the highest polling average on FiveThirtyEight.com ninety days prior to the election will receive the contribution.
When is the contribution transferred?

Once we’ve determined who should receive the funds, the last step is to ensure they actually run for office. The general rule is that a candidate receives the funds once they are officially entered into the election.

In the rare case where the representative chooses not to run for the given seat, the contribution will be made to whomever that representative endorses to fill his or her seat. If no endorsement is made, the party that that representative belonged to will receive the contribution.

If the contribution is to be paid to the opponent, once the opponent is identified using the rules above, the money will be transferred.

Campaign finance law requires that the transfer be completed within 10 days of the recipient being identified so the transfer will happen within that window.