Campaign finance requirements for Alabama ballot measures
- 1 General requirements
- 2 Campaign finance requirements
- 3 Reporting requirements and reports
- 4 Restrictions on advertising
- 5 Terminating a committee
- 6 Have Questions or Need Forms?
- 7 External links
- 8 References
The Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act governs most campaign finance laws under the Supervision of the Secretary of State's Office. If anyone feels a person or committee violated Alabama campaign finance laws, the first step is to file a complaint with the Alabama Attorney General. The Attorney General has full enforcement powers over campaign finance laws. Once a complaint is filed, it's up to the Attorney General to investigate the complaint and prosecute any violations.
Annual report mandatory
All Political Action Committees must file the Annual Report that is due by January 31 each year in addition to the normal campaign finance reports.
Any group that is influencing the passage or defeat of a referendum is considered to be a Political Action Committee (PAC's). Alabama law defines a PAC as a club, association, political party, or other group of one or more persons which receives or anticipates receiving contributions or makes or anticipates making expenditures to or on behalf of any elected official, proposition, candidate, principal campaign committee or other political action committee.
Statement of Organization
If a PAC receives contributions or makes expenditures in excess of $1,000, the committee must file a Statement of Organization Form within 10 days of reaching that threshold or forming the committee to the Secretary of State. The statement and subsequent campaign finance reports are filed with the Secretary of State if the PAC supports statewide ballot measures. All reports are filed with the local probate judge if the PAC supports local ballot measures.
Tax exemption clause
Some ballot measure groups in Alabama may be exempt from state taxes.
Campaign finance requirements
Blackout on fundraising
Alabama law mandated from January 14 to February 4, 2014, that no fund-raising activities of any kind could take place. This meant no contributions or solicitations.
Campaign fund account separation
The Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act requires all campaign funds raised by PAC's to be kept in separate accounts. Staffers, members, or officers of PAC's are prohibited from using personal money to fund a PAC influencing a referendum.
Canceled check clause
PAC's are required to keep receipts and canceled checks on file for two years after the date of expenditure.
Under a opinion published in 1981 by the Alabama Attorney General, corporations are prohibited to publish an advertisement in its own name to advocate the support or defeat of a ballot question. However, corporations and labor unions can donate to a Political Action Committee in support or opposition of a ballot question.
After exceeding the threshold amount in either contributions or expenditures, a PAC is required to file reports at specific times.
Reporting requirements and reports
Alabama uses a pre and post-election reporting system in addition to annual reports. During an election year, pre-election reports are required before an election with a referendum on the ballot. The report should include the amount of cash on hand at the beginning of the reporting period, a total of all contributions and expenditures made during the reporting period, and the ending balance on the summary page. Contributions and expenditures over $100 that were received or expended during the reporting period should be itemized on the following pages of the report.
Campaign reports for a PAC are required monthly. Each PAC must file a monthly report in the first week of the following month. For the dates on which the books must be closed for the months' contributions and the dates on which monthly campaign finance reports must be filed, see 2014 Election Fundraising deadlines.
A weekly report is required for all PACs in the four weeks leading up to an election. The deadline to close the books for the weekly campaign finance report occurs three days prior to each filing deadline.
For the primary election on June 3, 2014, weekly reports were due on:
- May 12
- May 19
- May 27
- May 30
For the primary runoff election on July 15, 2014, weekly reports were due on:
- June 23
- June 30
- July 7
- July 14
For the general election on November 4, 2014, weekly reports are due on:
- October 14
- October 20
- October 27
- November 3
In the eight days leading up to any election a daily finance report must be submitted.
The annual report covering all campaign finance activity from the previous year are due on January 31 each year.
Restrictions on advertising
The Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act requires: ”Any paid political advertisement appearing in any print media or broadcast on any electronic media shall be clearly identified or marked as a paid political advertisement and provide the identification required by Section 17-5-2(a)(5)." Identification of advertisements are defined as the full name and complete address of the PAC.
Also, all print advertisements, cards, pamphlets, and buttons must have the name of the PAC identified on the material with the full name and complete address of the PAC.
Terminating a committee
The chairman or treasurer of the PAC should submit a Statement of Dissolution Form to the secretary of state or local probate judge to dissolve a committee. The statement must be accompanied by a final report detailing contributions and expenditures not previously reported. Also, a disposition must be stated on how excess funds would be distributed.
Unused campaign funds can be used for:
- Necessary and ordinary expenditures of the campaign.
- Expenditures related to performing the duties of the office elected to. This is defined as expenses related to performing the duties of the office and not for legislative per diems (living expenses).
- Donations to the State General Fund (state budget), the Alabama Education Trust Fund, or equivalent county or municipal funds.
- Donations to an organization to which a federal income tax deduction is permitted under sub-paragraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subsection (b) of Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or any other charitable, educational, or eleemosynary cause of Section 501 of Title 26 of the U. S. Code.
- Legal Transfers to another political committee.
- Inaugural or transitional expenses.
Have Questions or Need Forms?
Contact the Elections Division:
P.O. Box 5616 Montgomery, AL 36103-5616
The Elections Division is located in the State Capitol at 600 Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama.
- Alabama Secretary of State's Office-Elections Division
- Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act Resource Page
- [Contacted Alabama Attorney General on October 5, 2009 to confirm enforcement authority]
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-8 Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, Section (b))
- "Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-2 Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, Section 10)
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-5 Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, Section 10)
- Alabama Secretary of State's Office, "2014 Election Fundraising deadlines," accessed April 2, 2014
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-3 Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, Section (b))
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-3 Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, Section (d))
- Office of the Alabama Attorney General, "Attorney General Opinion #82-088," November 19, 1981(See Page 4)
- Office of the Alabama Attorney General, "Attorney General Opinion #82-088," November 19, 1981(See Pages 4, 5)
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-8(a)(1) Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act, Section (a)(1))
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-9 FCPA)
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-12 FCPA)
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-2 FCPA)
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-13 FCPA)
- Alabama Legislature, "Alabama Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 17-5-5(d) Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act)
- "Alabama Legislature" Alabama Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 17-5-7 Alabama Fair Campaign Practices Act)
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