Vote button trans.png
April's Project of the Month
It's spring time. It's primary election season!
Click here to find all the information you'll need to cast your ballot.




Campaign finance requirements for Texas ballot measures

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 10:29, 19 March 2011 by Text Replacement Editor (Talk | contribs)

(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
Campaign finance requirements for Texas ballot measures are promulgated by the Texas Ethics Commission. The Commission handles all campaign finance reporting in the State of Texas in addition to enforcing most of the state's campaign finance laws.

There is a online database provided by the Commission that discloses the campaign finance activities of ballot measure groups in the State of Texas.

If anyone feels that a person or committee violated Texas campaign finance laws, a sworn complaint can be filed to the Ethics Commission. The Commission can only hear complaints on political contributions, expenditures, and advertising. Also, the Commission can also accept complaints regarding the use of audio or visual materials produced by the Legislature in political advertising. If the Commission finds there is enough probable cause of a law violation, the Commission may engage civil action in a circuit court. If there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the complaint can be referred to the Attorney General for prosecution[1]. The Attorney General also has statutory authority to represent the Commission in civil actions.

General requirements

Campaign treasurer appointment

All committees must file a campaign treasurer appointment statement before it accepts more than $500 in contributions received or expenditures made. The treasurer appointment statement serves as the campaign's official statement of organization[2]. The report must be filed to the Commission for campaigns involved with a statewide ballot measure or to the municipal/county elections authority if the campaign is involved with a local measure.

Specific-purpose committee

Under Texas law, any ballot measure group that is aimed at the passage or defeat of a ballot question is considered to be a specific-purpose committee. It is defined under the law as supporting or opposing one or more ballot measures defined by law[3].

The $100 cash rule

No individual contributor can donate more than $100 in cash to a specific purpose committee during a actual reporting period[4].

Campaign finance requirements

Best effort clause

All specific-purpose committees are required to maintain all specific information on the name, address, city, phone number, and employer when reporting all campaign contributions[5]. This is for all campaign contributions exceeding over $500 in a reporting period (one time or aggregate).

Corporate/labor contributions

Texas allows corporations and labor unions to contribute to specific purpose committees in support or opposition of a referendum[6]. Corporations and labor unions are prohibited from making any contributions to state and local party organizations, candidates, candidate committees, and political action committees[7].

Electronic reporting mandatory

Texas requires all specific-purpose political committees to file their campaign finance reports electronically as long it involves a electronic transfer. This can be done via the internet or filing the appropriate attachments via email to the Commission[8].

Filing reports

All specific-purpose purpose committees aimed at the passage or defeat of a ballot question must file all necessary campaign finance reports[9].

Non-reportable clauses

Specific-purpose committees are not required to report campaign contributions that involve personal travel expenses or personal services including campaign consulting[10].

Reporting expenditures

Under Texas law, expenditures do not have to be reported until the date an actual receipt or invoice has been received by the committee. A similar provision for credit card expenditures allows for committees to not report expenditures until they receive an actual credit card statement with the noted expenditure[11].

Reporting requirements and reports

Semi-annual reports

Each specific purpose committee is required to file two semi-annual reports. The reports are due on July 15 and January 15th. The first report covers all activity from January 1st or when the committee first filed up to June 30th. The Second report is from July 1 to December 31st[12].

30 day Pre-Election report

The 30 day report is the first of two mandated pre-election reports for specific-purpose committees. The report includes all contributions from the first day after the last reporting period until the 40th day before the election. The report is due on the 30th day before the election[13].

8 day Pre-Election report

The 8 day report is the second of two mandated pre-election reports for specific-purpose committee. The report includes all contributions from the 39th day before the election to the 10th day before the election. The report is due on the 8th day before the election[14].

Final campaign report

Whenever a specific-purpose committee files its termination papers, a final campaign report can be filed as long the committee had the expectation of making no expenditures or receiving no contributions. The report covers all activity from the ninth day before the election until the day the committee is terminated. The report is due upon filing the termination papers[15].

Campaign advertising restrictions

All political advertising in Texas must have the full name of the candidate, person, or committee that paid for the advertising. Texas limits how much advertising agencies can charge campaigns for political advertising[16]. The no excess charges rule is in effect 60 days before the general election or 45 days before a general/runoff primary. During the 60 days before the general election and 45 days before the general/runoff primary, all ads are charged at the lowest unit rate available for the same length, class, and time period[17].

Terminating a committee

Once a committee has the expectation that it will not make any more expenditures or receive any campaign contributions, then a termination report must be filed with the Commission within 10 days after the date of termination. The final campaign finance report is also due with the termination papers[18].

Upon dissolution, there are no restrictions on how specific purpose committees can disburse their surplus funds.

External links

References

  1. Texas Ethics Commission "Texas Campaign Finance Complaint Process"
  2. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute § 252.0031 Texas Election Code)
  3. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute § 251.001(13) Texas Election Code)
  4. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute § 253.033 Texas Election Code)
  5. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute §254.001. Texas Election Code)
  6. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute §253.096 Texas Election Code)
  7. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"((Referenced Statute §253.094 Texas Election Code)
  8. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute §254.036. Texas Election Code)
  9. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute § 251.001(13) Texas Election Code)
  10. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statutes § 254.032 and 254.033 Texas Election Code)
  11. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statutes § 254.035 Texas Election Code)
  12. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Laws"(Referenced Statute 254.123(b)-(c), Texas Election Code)
  13. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statutes § 254.124(b) Texas Election Code)
  14. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statutes § 254.124(c) Texas Election Code)
  15. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statutes § 254.125(a)(b) Texas Election Code)
  16. Texas Ethics Commission "Texas Campaign Finance Laws"(Referenced Statute 255.002 (a)-(1), Texas Election Code)
  17. Texas Ethics Commission "Texas Campaign Finance Laws"(Referenced Statute 255.002 (a)-(2), Texas Election Code)
  18. Texas General Assembly "Texas Campaign Finance Laws"(Referenced Statute 254.127)