Campaign finance requirements for Washington ballot measures

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Campaign finance requirements for Washington ballot measures are promulgated by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission. The PDC is the main enforcement body for elections and campaign finance laws in Washington State. The PDC maintains a database of all campaign contributions to campaign committees in support of or opposition to specific ballot initiative measures. Researchers can sort through the database by year, name of committee, and name of donor.

If someone believes if anyone violated Washington State campaign finance laws, a complaint must be filed to the Washington PDC. The PDC investigates all complaints fully. If the PDC finds an apparent violation of campaign finance laws, the PDC can refer the complaint to the Washington Attorney General or any appropriate law enforcement agency[1]..

General requirements

Mandatory electronic filing

In Washington State, any ballot proposition group that expects to expend $10,000 in the current year are required to file campaign finance reports electronically. The Washington PDC gives free training for ballot proposition groups to help in compliance towards these reports.

Political committee

All ballot proposition groups in Washington State are considered political committees defined by law[2].

Statement of Organization

Every ballot proposition group within two weeks after its organization or within two weeks after the date when it first has the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures in any election campaign must file a statement of organization on the earlier of the two requirements. This document must be filed with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission and with the County Auditor/Elections Officer of the county in which the treasurer resides. A committee aimed at the passage or defeat of a ballot measure which is organized within the last three weeks before an election and having the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures during and for that election campaign shall file a statement of organization. This must be filed within three business days after its formed or when it first has the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures in the election campaign[3].

Washington is different from other states on mandates in the Statement of Organization as all ballot measure groups are required to file a plan for handling surplus funds when they dissolve when the statement is first filed[4].

The 21 day reporting rule

All ballot proposition groups are required to report any large contributions made to a ballot proposition group twenty one days before an election.

The $5,000 in 21 days rule

When there is 21 days to go before the election, no contributor may donate over $5,000 in the aggregate to a ballot proposition group. This includes contributions to a party committee, as well as a candidate's personal contributions to his/her own campaign. The $5,000 rule does not apply to contributions from the state committee of the WA State Democratic or Republican Party or from the state committee of a minor party[5].

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

Under Washington State campaign finance laws, all ballot proposition groups are treated equally as Political Action Committees in terms of campaign contribution limits. Under law, there are no limits for campaign contributions for groups aimed at the passage and defeat of ballot proposition groups. This goes for individuals, state and county parties, PAC's, labor unions, and corporations. Candidate committees are prohibited from donating to ballot proposition groups[6].

Filing reports

All ballot proposition groups are required to file campaign finance reports with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.

Special reports clause

Under Washington State campaign finance law, ballot proposition groups are required to file three types of special reports when warranted. The first one is an advertising report. This report is mandated when The sponsor of political advertising within twenty-one days of an election, publishes, mails, or otherwise presents to the public political advertising supporting or opposing a ballot proposition that qualifies as an independent expenditure with a fair market value of $1,000. In the event of this occurrence, a ballot proposition group must in electronic or in written form send a special report to the Washington PDC within twenty-four hours of or on the first working day after the date the political advertising. This is defined as first published, mailed, or otherwise presented to the public[7].

The second special report that is required under Washington State law is a Late and Large Contributions report. Under Washington State law, ballot proposition groups are required to file to file a special Late/Large contribution reports to the Washington PDC under two circumstances:

  • If a contribution or a aggregate total of contributions which is $1,000 or more from a single person or entity which is received during a special reporting period.
  • If any political committee makes a contribution or an aggregate of contributions to a single entity which is $1,000 or more during a special reporting period.

A special reporting period is defined under Washington State law as a contribution made twenty one days before a general election[8].

The independent expenditure special report clause does not apply to ballot proposition groups in Washington State. Independent expenditure law applies to candidates and candidate committees[9].

Reporting requirements and types

In Washington State, ballot proposition groups do not file pre-primary and post-primary reports on the normal reporting calendar. All ballot proposition groups file the monthly C4 and C3 reports until the mandated pre-election and post-election report. If any group plans to expend $10,000 or more during the election, electronic filing is mandatory.

C1pc Report

The C1pc report is a the official Statement of Organization report form that must filed by a ballot proposition group after they are first formed. This form lists the purpose of the committee, reporting options, treasurer's name, relationships with other political committees or candidates, committee officers, and name of financial institution. This form must be filed within the normal filing deadline for political committees[10].

C4 Report

The C4 report is the overall campaign finance reporting form for Washington State ballot initiative groups. The form is used to report total contributions and expenditures for defined period and overall campaign. This report is due monthly along with 21 days and 7 days before the election[11].

C3 Report

The C3 report is separate from form C4. Under the C3 report it lists all the cash receipts during a campaign for a ballot proposition group. This form is used to report names of contributors, amounts, addresses, occupation, and employer[12].

Schedule A

A Schedule A identifies itemized expenses and deposits made for defined period. It is required with all C4 forms every month.

Schedule B

A schedule B lists in-kind contributions, pledges, orders, debts, and obligations. It is required with a C4 report and due whenever it is necessary[13].

Schedule C

Schedule C is a corrections form. This lists all necessary corrections and changes. It is a mandatory with a C4 form and due when corrections need to be made.

Schedule L

Schedule L is filed with either the C3 or C4 report. This schedule outlines loan payments and loans forgiven and outstanding. Ballot proposition groups are required to file a Schedule L with C4 after loan is deposited and continue until loan is paid in full or forgiven. A schedule L is required for a C3 when the loan is deposited.[14].

2009 Reporting Deadlines

External links

References