Campaign finance requirements for Arkansas ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Arkansas ballot measures are promulgated by the Arkansas Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission has primary enforcement over the state's campaign finance laws. The Secretary of State has jurisdiction over all technical matters not including campaign finance towards ballot measures. The Attorney General has authority approving title names for ballot initiatives and over the wording of questions.

If someone wants to file a complaint alleging a violation of Arkansas Campaign Finance Law, the complaint must be directed to the Arkansas Ethics Commission. It is up to the Commission to determine if any policies are violated and to remedy any action[1].

General requirements

Ballot question committee

Under Arkansas law, a group that is influencing the passage or defeat a initiative is considered to be a Ballot Question Committee. This is defined by law as any person, located within or outside Arkansas, who receives contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the qualification, disqualification, passage, or defeat of any ballot question. Any person, other than an individual, who makes expenditures for the purpose of expressly advocating the qualification, disqualification, passage, or defeat of any ballot question is also defined as a Ballot Question Committee[2].

Legislative question committee

There is a separate designation for committees influencing ballot questions that are referred by the General Assembly. These are called Legislative Question Committees. A legislative question committee is defined as any person, located within or outside Arkansas, who receives contributions for the purpose of expressly advocating the passage or defeat of any ballot question referred by the General Assembly. Any person, other than an individual, who makes expenditures for the purpose of expressly advocating the passage or defeat of any legislative question is also defined as a Legislative Question Committee[3].

A person other than an individual or an approved political action committee located within or outside Arkansas, also qualifies as a legislative question committee. This happens if two percent (2%) or more of its annual revenues, operating expenses, or funds are used to make a contribution or contributions to another legislative question committee and if the contribution or contributions exceed $10,000 in value[4].

Statement of organization

All Ballot Question or Legislative Question committees are required to file a Statement of Organization with the Ethics Commission within five days of receiving contributions or making expenditures in excess of $500.

All committees must have a Treasurer and a another person who serves on the executive organizing committee in order to register[5].

Campaign finance requirements

Cash limits

Arkansas limits campaigns from accepting contributions made with cash or coins to only $100 and expenditures to $50[6].

Contribution limits

There are no contribution limits for ballot question or legislative question committees[7].

Reporting requirements and types

Reporting form

There is one basic type of reporting form for ballot question and legislative question committees.

Monthly reports

A Ballot Question or Legislative Question Committee must issue their first campaign finance reports fifteen days following the month they exceeded the $500 registration threshold. All other reports must be filed monthly with all reports due fifteen days after the end of each month. If a monthly reporting deadline falls into a pre-election reporting period, the report must be carried over to the next reporting period[8].

Pre-election report

The pre-election report covers the month that the election is held. The report covers all campaign finance activity from the first of the month till seven or ten days before the election. The report is due seven days before the election for committees influencing ballot questions not referred by the General Assembly. The report is due ten days before the election for committees influencing legislative-referred ballot questions[9].

Post-Election report

The post-election report covers all campaign finance activity from seven days before the election to thirty days after the election. The report is due 30 days after the election[10].

Final report

Any ballot question committee, individual, public servant or governmental body that receives any contributions, regardless of whether these contributions are less than $500, must file a final campaign finance report 30 days after the relevant election at the latest.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Code, Title 7, Ch. 9-409 & Act 1085 (2013)

Advertising restrictions

Arkansas Senate Bill 426, known as Act 381 once signed into law in 2013, amended Arkansas code to require reporting on expenditures made on behalf of a ballot measure committee by an advertising agency, public relations firm or political consultant.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Arkansas Code, Title 7, Ch. 9-407 & Act 381

Terminating a committee

To terminate a committee, organizers must notify the Ethics Commission in writing. When the request is received by the Ethics Commission, the statement of organization is terminated.

Any surplus funds at the time of terminating a committee can used towards:

  • Donating to the Arkansas Treasurer in which the funds can be applied to the General Revenue Fund Account of the State Apportionment Fund.
  • A recognized political party or a party caucus of the Arkansas General Assembly, the Arkansas State Senate, or the Arkansas House of Representatives.
  • A nonprofit organization which is exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  • Returning the money to the contributors to the ballot question committee or legislative question committee[11].

See also

External links

References

  1. [Contacted Arkansas Ethics Commission on October 12, 2009 to confirm this procedure]
  2. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 600 (c)(1) (2), Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  3. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 600 (j)(1) Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  4. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 600 (j)(2) Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  5. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 606 (1)(2) Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  6. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(Referenced Statute § 601 (b)(c))
  7. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(Referenced Statute § 601)
  8. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 610 (a)(1) Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  9. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 610(2) Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  10. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 610(3) Arkansas Ethics Laws)
  11. Arkansas Ethics Commission, "Arkansas Campaign Finance Law" (dead link)(§ 611 Arkansas Ethics Laws)