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Campaign finance requirements for Virginia ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Virginia ballot measures are promulgated by the Virginia State Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections is responsible for handling the administrative and reporting functions of the state's campaign finance laws.

In the event a someone feels a person or committee violated Virginia campaign finance laws, the first step is to file a complaint with the State Board of Elections. The State Board of Elections refers all complaints to the Attorney General for prosecution[1].

General requirements

Referendum Committee-PAC

Virginia law designates any group in support or opposition of a referendum as a Referendum Committee. Referendum Committees are governed under the same laws as Political Action Committees (PAC's)[2].

Statement of Organization

Under Virginia law, any organization that has a 501c(3), c(4), or c(6) designation can register as a referendum committee if a they expect to spend $10,000 or more in expenditures for a statewide campaign, $5,000 for a county campaign (two or more municipalities), or $1,000 for a single municipality[3]. The committee must file within 10 days after exceeding the registration thresholds[4]. Committees can file only after a ballot question has been qualified[4].

The $10,000 rule

All referendum committees must report contributions of $10,000 or more within 72 hours to the State Board of Elections[5]. The rule applies to contributions made one-time or reaching an aggregate total of $10,000[6].

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

There are no limits on campaign contributions made to Referendum Committees[7]. Virginia is one of six states in the nation to not limit contributions to candidates[8].

Corporate/labor union contributions

Corporations and labor unions are permitted to donate to Referendum Committees in Virginia[9].

Electronic filing

All Referendum Committees must file campaign finance reports electronically if they have recieved contributions or made expenditures of $10,000 or more [10].

Reporting requirements and reports

Virginia is different from other states in which they have three different reporting calendars depending on when the referendum is placed on the ballot.

May elections

For May elections, referendum committees must file reports on these dates:

  • 8 Day pre-election report-This report covers all campaign finance activity from when a referendum first qualified until eleven (11) days before the May election. The report is due on eight (8) days before the election.
  • June 15th post-election-The first post-election report covers all campaign finance activity from ten (10) days before the election until June 10th. The report is due on June 15th.
  • July 15th post-election-The second post-election report covers all campaign finance activity from June 11th to June 30th. The report is due on July 15th[11].

November elections

For November elections, referendum committees must file reports on these dates:

  • Off-year reports-All referendum committees that qualified the year before the November election must file off-year reports after the referendum was first qualified. Up to two reports are mandated depending when the referendum qualified in the off-year. The first reporting period is from January 1 to June 30th. The report is due on July 15th. The second off-year reporting period July 1 to December 31st. The report is due on January 15th.
  • April 15th report-The April 15th report covers all campaign finance activity from January 1 to March 31st. The report is due on April 15th.
  • July 15th report-The July 15th report covers all campaign finance activity from April 1st to June 30th. The report is due on July 15th.
  • September 15th report-The September 15th report covers all campaign finance activity from July 1st to August 31st. The report is due on September 15th.
  • 8 Day Pre-Election report-The 8 day pre-election report covers all campaign finance activity from September 1 until thirteen (13) days before the election. The report is due eight (8) days before the election.
  • 30 Day Post-Election report-The 30 day post-election report covers all campaign finance activity from twelve (12) days before the election until twenty-three (23) days after the November election. The report is due thirty (30) days after the election.
  • January 15th report-The January 15th report covers all campaign finance activity after the 30 day post-election deadline until December 31st. The report is due on January 15th[12].

Special elections

For special elections, referendum committees must file reports on these dates:

  • 8 day pre-election report-The 8 day pre-election report covers all campaign finance activity from when the referendum first qualified until eleven (11) days before the election. The report is due eight days before the election.
  • 30 day post-election report-This 30 day post-election report covers all campaign finance activity from ten (10) days before the election until thirty days after the election. The report is thirty days after the election[13].

Campaign advertising restrictions

There are no campaign advertisement or disclosure restrictions for Referendum Committees. Referendum Committees are exempt from all political advertisement regulations[14].

Terminating a committee

Under Virginia law, any Referendum committee that plans to terminate must not report new receipts of funds received or expenditures made, a retirement of all outstanding debts, and a disposition of how surplus funds must be spent[15].

Surplus funds can be used for returning of funds to contributors not exceeding the original amounts donated, donating the excess to any charity, to one or more registered political committees, or to defray unreimbursed expenses[16].

The deadline to file a termination report is due six months after the date the election is held[17] [18] [19].

External links

References

  1. [Contacted VA Board of Elections on January 26, 2010 to confirm this information]
  2. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-945.1 Virginia Code)
  3. Virginia State Board of Elections "Virginia Referendum Committee Summary"(See Section 2.1, Page 13)
  4. 4.0 4.1 'Virginia State Board of Elections "Virginia Referendum Committee Summary"(See Section 2.2, Page 13)
  5. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Section 24.2-951.7, Virginia Code)
  6. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Section 24.2-951.7 (3), Virginia Code)
  7. Virginia State Board of Elections "Virginia Referendum Committee Summary"(See Section 3.1, Page 18)
  8. National Conference of State Legislatures "Contribution Limits: An Overview", January 20, 2010
  9. Virginia State Board of Elections "Virginia Referendum Committee Summary"(See Section 3.1, Page 18)
  10. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.8(B))
  11. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.5 (A)-(1-3))
  12. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.4 (A)-(1-10))
  13. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.6 (A)-(1-2))
  14. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951(B), Virginia Code)
  15. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.9.(A))
  16. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.9.(B))
  17. Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.6(B))
  18. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.5(B))
  19. Virginia Legislature "Virginia Campaign Disclosure Act of 2006"(Referenced Statute 24.2-951.4(B))