November 2, 2015 •
Ask the Experts – Contributions Before Election Day
Q. Are there any rules that pertain to making contributions in the weeks leading up to an election?
A. With local elections in 2015 and the upcoming 2016 elections, 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 21 days before an 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 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 state office after the 10th day before an election until the day of the election.
These are just a few examples. As we always advise, verify the rules in your state before making political contributions.
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