Campaign finance requirements for Oklahoma ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Oklahoma ballot measures are promulgated by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. The Commission is responsible for enforcing all campaign finance laws in the State of Oklahoma.

If someone feels a person or committee violated Oklahoma campaign finance law, the first step is to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission. Once the complaint is received, it is up to the Executive Director of the Commission to validate the complaint. If the complaint is verified, then the whole Commission reviews all evidence to determine any probable cause. If there is probable cause of campaign finance violations, the Commission litigates the matter to a district court. It is up to a district court to determine if someone is guilty of campaign finance laws, but parties can settle out of court[1].

General requirements

PAC Designation

All groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure are considered to be a Political Action Committee (PAC)[2].

Statement of Organization

Any group that is in support or opposition of a ballot measure must file a Statement of Organization with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. This must be done within 5 days after reaching the $500 threshold of making expenditures or receiving contributions[3]. Groups are required to re-file a new statement of organization every year between January 1 and January 31[4].

The $500 in 24 hours rule

Under Oklahoma law, any campaign must report to the Commission any contributions received or expenditures made of $500 or more during the last fourteen days of the election. This must be reported in 24 hours of receiving a large contribution or making a large expenditure[5] [6]

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

There are no campaign contribution limits for Political Action Committees registered in support or opposition of a ballot question in the State of Oklahoma[7]. Any corporation, labor union, or individual can donate unlimited sums of money to any ballot measure campaign[8].

Corporate/labor contributions

Oklahoma allows corporate and labor union contributions to groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure[8] [9]. The State of Oklahoma bans corporations and labor unions from donating to candidates, candidate committees, and political action committees in support or opposition of a candidate[10].

Expenditure restrictions

In Oklahoma, all expenditures over $50 must be documented with a receipt. Also, all expenditures for services cannot exceed the fair market value[11].

Family member contributions

Oklahoma allows for campaign contributions between husbands and wives to be totaled together when calculating contributions in compliance with contribution limits set by law[12].

PAC to PAC fund transfers

Oklahoma law prohibits campaign finance funds to be transferred from one political action committee to another[13].

Reporting requirements and reports

Quarterly reports

Political Action Committees aimed at the passage or defeat of a ballot question are treated differently in terms of reporting campaign finance activity[14]. Under the law, quarterly reports cover contributions from October 1 to December 31, January 1 to March 31, April 1 to June 30, and July 1 to September 30 respectively[14] [15].

Pre-election reports

All political action committees in support or opposition of a ballot measure must file pre-election reports. Under the Law, the report covers all activity from October 1 to fifteen days remaining before the election. The report is due eight days before the election[14].

Campaign advertising restrictions

Any group conducting independent expenditure advertising must have at the bottom of the television ad stating: “This advertisement is not authorized or approved by any ballot measure committee"[16]. Disclaimers for independent expenditure print ads must appear on each page or fold of the ad in at least ten point font or at least ten percent of the largest size type used in a similar print ad directed at more than one voter. This provision is for posters and or billboards[17].

Also, any person or out of state committee that pays for $5,000 at one time or throughout the campaign for advertising must file reports of paying such advertising to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Under the law, this must be reported within 24 hours or reaching the threshold or making the promise to pay for such advertising[18].

Terminating a committee

Under Oklahoma law, if a committee wants to dissolve, they can under the expectation of not receiving any campaign contributions or making any expenditures. When dissolved, the committee must file a final campaign finance report including a statement on how they will distribute surplus funds. A committee can still have outstanding debt at the time of dissolution, but they must report all outstanding debts until they are all paid for[19].

Surplus funds can be used to deposit to the state's general revenue fund, returned to campaign contributors not exceeding the contributor's donation amount, donated to charity, for legal defense purposes, or to other ballot measure groups[20].

External links

References

  1. Oklahoma Ethics Commission "Filing Information or Complaint"
  2. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S.21§ 187(13))
  3. "OSCN" Oklahoma Statutes(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§4259(A)(B))
  4. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§4259(C))
  5. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute 257:10-1-15)
  6. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute 257:10-1-16 (a))
  7. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S.21§ 187.1(C))
  8. 8.0 8.1 OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S.21§ 187.2(B)(1))
  9. OSCN "Oklahoma Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute O.S. § 257 10-1-2(d)(2)-(a))
  10. OSCN "Oklahoma Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute O.S. § 257 10-1-2(d)-(2))
  11. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-7 (a)(2)-(5))
  12. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-2 (h)(1))
  13. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-2 (f)(2))
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-13 (a)(1))
  15. Oklahoma Ethics Commission "2009-2011 Campaign Finance Calendar"(See Page 2)
  16. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-7 (3)(A-B)
  17. OSCN "Oklahoma Ethics Law"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-7 (2)(A-C)
  18. OSCN "Oklahoma Statutes"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-16 (C)(1))
  19. OSCN "Oklahoma Ethics Law"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-19 (B-D)
  20. OSCN "Oklahoma Ethics Law"(Referenced Statute O.S. 74§257 10-1-20 (B)(3))