WASHINGTON - America's Community Bankers has won Federal Election Commission approval to give members information online about its political action committee.

The group said that the commission's ruling is the first to define what trade association PACs may do and say on their Web sites without violating federal fund-raising laws. Association officials had to make sure that they did not violate prohibitions against asking nonmembers for money or soliciting employees of a member bank without first getting signed permission from the chief executive or general counsel.

A recent FEC advisory opinion said it would be legal for the group to post a general description of the importance of donations to worthy candidates and a copy of permission-to-solicit forms on a Web page that requires passwords given only to members. The group's Web page accessible to the general public may include a notice listing the name and phone number of the staff member who can answer questions about the PAC.

"It will create an additional means for communicating with our membership about an important aspect of our activities," said Robert R. Davis, the community banking group's managing director of government relations. "More of our members are communicating with us over Web-based applications."

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