Campaign finance requirements for Arizona ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Arizona ballot measures are promulgated by the Arizona Secretary of State's Elections Division. The Secretary of State is responsible for enforcing campaign finance laws for ballot measure groups. The Arizona Attorney General's Solicitor General Division is responsible for enforcing technical aspects of the law including the wording of the ballot question.

All campaign finance reports are viewable through the Financial Reporting Page furnished by the Secretary of State.

If someone feels a person or committee violated Arizona Campaign Finance Law, the complaint must be filed with the proper authorities depending on the status of the ballot measure. If a measure is placed on the ballot, the complaint must be filed with the filing officer that approved the measure. If the complaint alleges a violation by a statewide campaign, the filing officer can refer the complaint to the Attorney General. If the complaint alleges a violation by a local campaign, then it's referred to the City or County Attorney.[1]

General Requirements

Political committee

All groups influencing the passage or defeat of a ballot measure are considered to be political committees.[2] Political committees that sponsor initiatives undergo the same reporting deadlines and forms as other political committees which include PAC's.

The $10,000 rule

Any statewide ballot initiative group in support of or opposition of a ballot measure must give notice to the Arizona Secretary of State of any single contribution or expenditure made totaling ten thousand dollars or more. This must be disclosed to the Elections Division within twenty-four hours not counting Saturdays, Sundays, or any holiday recognized by the State of Arizona.[3] This involves a one-time contributions over $10,000, and cumulative donations throughout an election cycle over $10,000

The Secretary of State's Office publishes on its campaign finance portal all groups or committees who have contributed $10,000 or more.[3]

Statement of Organization

Under Arizona Law, a ballot initiative group must file a Statement of Organization or a fund-raising threshold exemption with the Arizona Secretary of State. This statement must be filed with if any organization plans to raise more than $500 before:

  • Accepting campaign contributions
  • Making expenditures for necessary campaign expenses.
  • Distributing any campaign literature
  • Circulating petitions

Also, any ballot initiative group that intends to accept contributions or make expenditures of $500 or less supporting or opposing a referendum must file an exemption with the Secretary of State. Any group who goes below the $500 threshold must file an exemption Statement before doing any campaigning, fund-raising, or issuing petitions. Any organization who files a exemption and raises more than $500 must file of Statement of Organization within five business days with the Secretary of State[4]

All other Political Action Committees (PAC's) that are influencing a ballot measure must reflect their intentions when filing a statement of organization. The statement must disclose the name of the committee, the official serial number for the petition, and a statement as to whether if the political committee supports or opposes the passage of the ballot measure. If a statewide ballot measure is approved, the Secretary of State can amend the name of the committee either in support or opposition of a ballot measure. A committee can be re-named to include the Proposition number instead of the serial number as long public notice is given of the name change.[4]

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

There are no contribution limits for any individual or political action committee donating to a ballot initiative group in support or opposition to a ballot measure. All committees that are sponsors of an initiative must disclose if money they receive from a PAC is in-state or out-of state.

Corporate/labor union contributions

Corporations and labor unions are allowed to donate to campaigns in support or opposition of a ballot measure in Arizona.[5] Arizona bans corporations and labor unions to donate to candidates, candidate committees, and state and local party organizations.[6]

Major donor disclosure

Ballot initiative groups are required to disclose in campaign literature or advertisements the four largest major funding sources of their campaign. If a group has fewer than four major funding sources, the committee must disclose all relevant major funding sources.[7]

A "Major Funding Source" is defined under Arizona Law as a political committee that is a contributor and not an individual person which makes cumulative contributions of either:
1. $10,000 or more for an expenditure in support of or opposition to a statewide ballot proposition or a local ballot measure if the population of the city is greater than 100,000 people.
2. $5,000 or more for an expenditure in support of or opposition to a ballot proposition of a political subdivision with a population of less than one hundred thousand persons.

If an individual or group of out-of-state contributor(s) a major funding source to a ballot initiative group, then the group shall state the contributor is an out-of-state contributor on its literature or advertisement in support of or in opposition to a measure.

If contributors donate to more than one political committee that supports or opposes the same ballot measure, then contributors must notify each committee of the cumulative total of these contributions. This includes PAC's in support or opposition of a measure. Cumulative totals must be disclosed by each political committee that has received contributions from the same contributor if the totals qualify as a major funding source.[7]

Out of state committees

Any out of state committee that plans to influence a referendum can file a Statement of Organization. When registering, out-of-state committee must submit two years of previous campaign finance reports filed in other states at the time of filing.[8]

Reporting requirements and types

Arizona uses a semi-annual reporting system in addition to pre and post-election reporting.[9]

January 31st Report

If a ballot initiative group starts the year before an election, then the January 31st report is considered the first campaign finance report of the election. The report must be filed by February 1st. The Secretary of State can first accept reports on January 1. The report covers all funds raised from November 27, 2012 through December 31, 2013.[9]

June 30th Report

The June 30th report covers all campaign finance activity from January 1 to May 31, 2014. For the 2014 cycle, the report is due on June 30th, 2014. The Secretary of State could first accept reports on June 1, 2014.[9]

Pre-Primary Report

The pre-primary report is considered the last campaign finance report for campaigns influencing an initiative placed on the August statewide or local primary ballot. The report covers all campaign finance activity from June 1 to August 4, 2014. The report is due on August 22, 2014. The Secretary of State can first accept reports on August 15, 2014. If campaigns are influencing initiatives on the November ballot, they are required to file a pre-primary report.[9]

Post-Primary Report

The post-primary report covers all campaign finance activity from August 15 to September 15, 2014. The reporting deadline is September 25, 2014. The Secretary of State can first accept reports on September 16, 2014. If campaigns are influencing initiatives on the November ballot, they are required to file a post-primary report.[9]

Pre-General Report

The pre-general report covers all campaign finance activity from September 16 to October 23, 2014. The reporting deadline is October 31, 2014. The Secretary of State can first accept reports on October 24, 2014.[9]

Post-General Report

The post-general report is considered the last campaign finance report for a committees influencing initiatives. The report covers all campaign finance activity from October 24 to November 24, 2014. The report is due on December 4, 2014. The Secretary of State can first accept reports on November 25, 2014.[9]

Advertising restrictions

In Arizona, the major donor disclosure law for advertisements applies to general public advertising through the print and electronic media, signs, billboards and direct mail defined by Arizona Law. The disclosure must be at the time of literature or advertisement is printed, recorded or otherwise produced for dissemination. If a political committee has fewer than four major funding sources, the committee shall disclose all major funding sources when producing the advertisements.[10]

The major donor disclosure is not required for other advertisement materials including bumper stickers, pins, buttons, pens and similar small items on which the required statements cannot be conveniently disclosed to members.[10]

For broadcast advertisements including radio ads, the disclosure must be spoken at the end of the advertisement. If it is a television advertisement, the disclosure must be both written and spoken at the end of the advertisement. There is an exception for a spoken disclosure of major funding sources if the disclosure statement is written for at least five seconds of a thirty second advertisement broadcast or ten seconds of a sixty second advertisement broadcast. For television advertisements, the written disclosure statement shall be printed in letters equal to or larger than four percent of the vertical picture height.[10]

Terminating a committee

A ballot initiative group may terminate its statement of organization only when the committee chairman and treasurer file written statements with the filing officer they filed with. These statements certify, under penalty of perjury, that the committee will no longer receive contributions or make disbursements along with no outstanding debts.

Any surplus funds must be disbursed in a legal manner. A separate statement must be attached with the termination report that discloses how surplus funds were disbursed, the name and address of each surplus funds recipient, and the amount given to the reciepient.[11]

Surplus funds can be used legally for:

  • Retaining funds for a subsequent election.
  • Returning contributions to contributors.
  • Contribute surplus funds to the county, state or local committee of a political party registered with the Secretary of State.
  • Donate to a charitable organization listed as Chapter 501c(3) under the United States Internal Revenue Code.
  • Donate to a campaign committee or another political committee (which includes PAC's and other ballot initiative groups).
  • Donate to a candidate's campaign committee. Any contribution to a candidate committee is subject to contribution limits.[12]

External links

References

  1. Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 16.924 Arizona Campaign Finance Law)
  2. Arizona Revised Statutes, "Arizona Election Law"(Revised Statute 16.901 Section 19d)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 16.914.01 Arizona Revised Statutes)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Election Law"(Referenced Statute 16-902.01, Section A and F Arizona Revised Statutes)
  5. Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 16-920(5), Arizona Revised Statutes)
  6. Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute 16-921(3)(A-J))
  7. 7.0 7.1 Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Election Law"(Referenced Statute 16-912.01, Sections A-D Arizona Revised Statutes)
  8. Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Election Law"(Referenced Statute 16-902.02 Arizona Revised Statutes)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 '"Arizona Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance Reporting Dates 2014-Political Committee", accessed April 10, 2014
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Election Law"(Referenced Statutes 16.912.01 Arizona Revised Statutes)
  11. Arizona Legislature, "Arizona Election Law"(Referenced Statute 16.914 Arizona Revised Statutes)
  12. "Arizona Legislature" Arizona Campaign Finance Law(Revised Statute 16.915-01)