Campaign finance requirements for Washington, D.C. ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for ballot measures in Washington, D.C. are promulgated by the District of Columbia Office of Campaign Finance. The Office of Campaign Finance handles all administrative and reporting functions of campaign finance in Washington, D.C..

If someone feels a violation of campaign finance law happened, the first step is to file a complaint with the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia. The U.S. Attorney's office handles all prosecutions of campaign finance laws in Washington, D.C.[1].

General requirements

Political committee

Any group in support or opposition of a ballot measure in the District of Columbia is considered to be a political committee[2].

Statement of Organization

All political committees, authorized or unauthorized, including initiative, referendum, or recall committees, must file a Statement of Organization with the Office of Campaign Finance within ten (10) days of organization. A political committee must have a treasurer and a chairperson[3].

Verified Statement of Contributions

The proposer of an initiative or referendum measure or any political committee organized in support of a measure is required to file a Verified Statement of Contributions with the Office of Campaign Finance on or before the submission of the measure for filing.

The Verified Statement of Contributions consists of the already filed Statement of Organization and an initial report of receipts and expenditures. The Board of Elections and Ethics must reject any proposed measure for filing if the Statement of Organization and Report of Receipts and Expenditures have not been filed with the Office of Campaign Finance.

The proposer of a recall measure must file a Verified Statement of Contributions with the Office of Campaign Finance prior to the submission of a petition supporting the measure for filing[4].

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

There are no campaign contribution limits for political committees in support or opposition of a ballot measure. Any corporation, labor union, or party committee can make unlimited contributions[5].

Hatch Act

Because Washington, D.C. is under the jurisdiction of the federal government, all federal employees must follow The Hatch Act. Under Hatch, federal employees are prohibited from using their position as a employee of the District of Columbia to contribute to campaigns in support or opposition of a ballot measure, to interfere or influence and election, or ask subordinates to donate to a campaign as a condition of employment[6].

Reporting requirements and reports

Washington, DC handles all campaign finance reporting on a cumulative basis. Under the laws, all campaign finance reports must include the activity of the previous reports in the same calendar year along with the current reporting period.

Initial Report of Receipts and Expenditures

The first campaign finance report is the Initial Report of Receipts and Expenditures. This report measures all campaign finance activity during the process of qualifying a ballot initiative. Committees supporting a ballot measure must file the report on or before commencement of the process to qualify the measure for ballot placement. Otherwise, committees that are opposing' a ballot measure must file the initial report 10 days after making an expenditure or accepting a contribution in opposing the measure[7].

Other reporting deadlines

  • on the 10th day of the 4th month preceding the election
  • on the 10th day of the 2nd month preceding the election
  • Eight days prior to the election
  • on January 31st and July 31st every year until all debts are satisfied[8].

Campaign advertising requirements

All print advertisements including newspaper advertisements, posters, circulars, billboards, handbills, bumper stickers, sample ballots, initiative, referendum, or recall petitions, and other printed matter must have the words "paid for by" following by the name and address of the political committee[9]. There are no restrictions for broadcast advertising.

Terminating a committee

Under the District of Columbia code, any political committee after having filed one or more statements of organization that disbands or determines it will no longer receive contributions or make expenditures during the year must notify the Director of the DC Office of Campaign Finance of its termination[10].

All surplus funds must be returned to contributors within six months of termination, also all political committees in some cases can return surplus funds to a charity of their choosing[11].

External links

References

  1. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1107.01 DC Code)
  2. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1101.01(5) DC Code)
  3. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1102.04 DC Code)
  4. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1102.06 DC Code)
  5. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1131.01(i) DC Code)
  6. "Cornell Law Hatch Act(Referenced Section Title 5, § 7323 US Code)
  7. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1102.06(d) DC Code)
  8. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1102.06(a) DC Code)
  9. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1102.10 DC Code)
  10. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1102.04(i) DC Code)
  11. "Westlaw" DC Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Section § 1-1107.02 DC Code)