May 16, 2022 •
Ask the Experts – Political Contributions Before an Election
QUESTION: Are there any rules that pertain to making contributions in the weeks leading up to an election?
ANSWER: With this being an election year, it is wise to know what the rules are when making contributions in the days and weeks leading up to an election. Usually, there is a monetary threshold that must be exceeded and typically there is a short turnaround time to disclose the contribution, usually within 24 hours. In some instances, there is an outright ban on contributions.
In California, contributions of $1,000 or more per candidate made by a major donor during the 90-day period before an election must be disclosed within 24 hours of making the contribution. Contributions to ballot measure committees and political party committees are also included within this reporting requirement. The candidate and the ballot measure committee must be on the ballot at the election for which the 90-day period applies. California’s 90-day pre-election period is the longest in the country. If numerous special elections are being held, the 90-day periods may overlap.
In Washington, a contribution of $1,000 or more per candidate made by a registered lobbyist during the seven days before a primary election and 21 days before the general election must be disclosed within 24 hours of making the contribution. This includes contributions to candidates and ballot measures appearing on the ballot at the election for which the seven day and 21-day period applies, as well as contributions to political party committees and PACs. The Washington Public Disclosure Commission has a link on its home page that allows for the electronic filing of this report.
In Florida, opposed candidates must return contributions received less than five days prior to an election.
In Tennessee, a PAC is prohibited from making a contribution to a candidate for office after the 10th day before an election until the day of the election. This prohibition only applies if the contribution is going to a candidate who is running in that election.
These are just a few examples. As we always advise, verify the rules in your state before making political contributions.
For more information, be sure to check out the “Registration and Reports Required” section of the U.S. Political Contributions Compliance Laws online publication on our website. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.
State and Federal Communications, Inc. provides research and consulting services for government relations professionals on lobbying laws, procurement lobbying laws, political contribution laws in the United States and Canada. Learn more by visiting stateandfed.com.