Campaign finance requirements for Illinois ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Illinois ballot measures are promulgated by the Illinois State Board of Elections. The Board of Elections is the agency that is responsible for enforcing all campaign finance laws in the State of Illinois[1]. The Board has a disclosure database that lists all campaign finance reports from groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure.

If someone believes a group or an individual violated campaign finance laws in the State of Illinois, the first step is to file a complaint with the State Board of Elections[2]. It is up to the Board to determine if a violation happened through a probable cause hearing[3]. If the Board finds someone guilty with an offense, in most cases a monetary fine is imposed through civil court action[4] Also, the Board has the discretion to refer any case at any time to the Illinois Attorney General[4].

2011 law changes

  • Despite contribution limits for candidate committees, party organizations, and Political Action Committees go into effect on January 1, 2011, a ballot initiative committee can accept money without limit from any source[5].

General requirements

Ballot initiative committee

Effective July 1, 2010, any group in support or opposition of a question of public policy is considered to be a ballot initiative committee[6]. Also, any group or person that plans to spend money on advertisements to influence a question of public policy must register as a ballot initiative committee[7]. This replaces the state and local committee designations that were previously used[8] .

Statement of Organization

There are two thresholds on whether a group in support or opposition of a ballot measure should file a Statement of Organization. Candidates, groups or individuals who raise and or spend more than $3,000 in any 12-month period must file a statement of organization with the State Board of Elections[9] [10]. Nonprofit organizations, excluding labor unions, must file a statement of organization if they spend or raise more than $5,000 in any 12-month period[11].

The Statement of Organization must be filed within 10 days of the creation of the committee[12].

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

In Illinois, there are no laws that limit campaign contributions to groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure[13]. Any corporation, individual, labor union, or state party committee can donate unlimited sums of money.

Filing reports

All groups that have filed a Statement of Organization in support or opposition of a ballot measure with the State Board of Elections must file all appropriate campaign finance reports[14].

Polling records

Under Illinois law, all campaigns for or against ballot questions must keep records of polling done on behalf of a campaign. The campaign must keep the contact information of the person requesting the poll and must keep all records on file for one year[15].

Reporting requirements and types

Schedule A-1

Any group in Illinois that supports or opposes a ballot measure must file a schedule A-1 in addition to all campaign finance reports. Under Schedule A-1, any group that makes expenditures over $500 must report those expenditures[16].

Semi-Annual reports

All groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure in the State of Illinois must file two semi-annual reports. The first report covers all activity from January 1 to June 30th. The other semi-annual report covers 29 days before the election and December 31st of a calendar year. The first semi-annual report is due on July 20th while the second report is due on January 20th[17]

Pre-Election report

The pre-election report covers all election report from July 1, 2009 to 30 days before the election. The report is due when there is 15 days left before the election[18]

Campaign advertising restrictions

Under Illinois law, all groups in support of opposition of a ballot measure at the statewide level must have a disclosure statement as follows for ads soliciting campaign contributions:

“A copy of our report filed with the State Board of Elections is (or will be) available for purchase from the State Board of Elections, Springfield, Illinois.”[19]

For municipal and county-wide ballot measures the following disclaimer must be used:

“A copy of our report filed with the county clerk is (or will be) available for purchase from the county clerk (county clerk’s address), Illinois.”[19]

For all other advertisements, the communications must disclose who paid for the ad on the bottom of the advertisement[20]

Terminating a committee

Under Illinois law, if a group in support or opposition of a ballot question dissolves as a political committee or determines that it will no longer receive any campaign contributions or make expenditures are required to file a final report with the State Board of Elections in respect to its contributions and expenditures, including the disbursement of surplus funds[21].

When a committee dissolves, all contributions in its possession after payment of the committee’s outstanding liabilities and staff salaries, must be refunded to campaign contributors not exceeding the original amount donated. Also, surplus funds can be transferred to other political or charitable organizations consistent with the positions of the committee or the candidates it represented[21].

External links

References

  1. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statutes 5/9-15 and 5/9-16)
  2. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-20)
  3. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-21)
  4. 4.0 4.1 Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-23)
  5. Illinois General Assembly "Text of Public Act 96-0832"(See Statute 10 ILCS 5/9-8.5(e) new)
  6. Illinois State Board of Elections "Important Changes to Illinois Disclosure Law" (Effective July 1st, 2010)(See Page 3)
  7. Illinois State Board of Elections "Important Changes to Illinois Disclosure Law" (Effective July 1st, 2010)(See Page 4)
  8. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-17(b))
  9. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9.17(a))
  10. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9.18(a))
  11. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-7.5)
  12. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-3)
  13. National Conference of State Legislatures "Contribution Limits: An Overview", January 20, 2010
  14. Illinois State Board of Elections" Illinois Campaign Financing Act(Referenced Statute 5/9-10)
  15. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-9.5)
  16. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 100.70)
  17. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-10(c))
  18. Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 100.75 and 5/9-10(b))
  19. 19.0 19.1 Illinois State Elections Board "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9.9)
  20. Illinois State Elections Board "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-9.5)
  21. 21.0 21.1 Illinois State Board of Elections "Illinois Campaign Financing Act"(Referenced Statute 5/9-5)