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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 (PDC). The PDC is responsible for administering and enforcing election and campaign finance laws in Washington State. The PDC maintains a database of all campaign contributions to committees in support of or opposition of a ballot measure. Researchers can sort through the database by year, name of committee, and name of donor.

If someone believes if a person or committee violated Washington State campaign finance laws, a complaint must be filed with the PDC. The PDC fully investigates all complaints. If the PDC finds an apparent violation of campaign finance laws, the complaint can be referred to the Attorney General or any other law enforcement agency[1] [2].

General requirements

Mandatory electronic filing

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[3].

Political committee

All ballot proposition groups in Washington State are considered political committees defined by law[4].

Statement of Organization

Every Political Committee within two weeks after its organization or after the date when it first expects to receive contributions or make expenditures must file a statement of organization. The threshold is the earlier of the two requirements. The statement must be filed with the PDC and the County Auditor/Elections Officer where the treasurer resides. A committee that is organized within the last three weeks before an election and having the expectation of receiving contributions or making expenditures must file a statement of organization. This must be done within three business days[5].

All political committees are required to file an additional disposition stating how surplus funds would be disbursed when the committee is dissolved[6].

The 21 day reporting rule

All political committees are required to report any large contributions in the final twenty one days before an election.

The $5,000 in 21 days rule

In the final twenty-one days before the election, no contributor can donate over $5,000 in total to a ballot proposition group. This includes contributions to a party committee in addition to a candidate's personal contributions to his/her own campaign. The $5,000 rule does not apply to contributions from the state central committees of the Democratic or Republican Parties along with the state central committees of minor parties[7].

Campaign finance requirements

Contribution limits

There are no limits for campaign contributions to political committees influencing the passage or defeat of a ballot proposition. All individuals, state and county party committees, PAC's, labor unions, and corporations can donate without limit. Candidate committees are prohibited from donating to political committees engaged in ballot propositions[8].

Filing reports

All political committees are required to file campaign finance reports with the PDC within the specified deadlines[9].

Special reports clause

Political committees influencing ballot propositions are required to file two types of special reports when warranted. The first report is an advertising report. The report is mandated when an person or committee publishes, mails, or presents advertising supporting or opposing a proposition with a fair market value of $1,000. The report covers ads paid through an independent expenditure. A political committee must send a special report to the PDC within twenty-four hours or on the first working day after the ad was first presented[10].

The second special report for late and large contributions. Under law, political committees are required to file a late/large contribution report to the PDC under two circumstances:

  • If a contribution of $1,000 or more (one-time or total aggregate) from a single person or entity was received during a special reporting period.
  • If any political committee makes a contribution of $1,000 or more (one-time or total aggregate) during a special reporting period.

Any contribution received twenty one days before a general election is considered to fall under the special reporting period[11].

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[12].

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[13].

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[14].

C5 report

The C5 report is a mandated report for out-of-state political committees who are influencing the passage or a defeat of a ballot proposition. The report must be filed by the 10th of the each month if a expenditure is made during the normal monthly reporting period[15].

Schedule A

A Schedule A form identifies itemized expenses and deposits made for defined period. It is required with all C4 forms every month[16].

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[17].

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[18].

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.[19].

2009 Reporting Deadlines

Washington State sets campaign finance deadlines that are different from year to year. Here are the following dates for the 2009 election cycle in Washington

  • January 12, 2009-File first C3 and C4 report for the close of December 31, 2008
  • February 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of January 31, 2009
  • March 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of February 28, 2009
  • April 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of March 31, 2009.
  • May 11, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of April 30, 2009.
  • June 1, 2009-Begin to file C3 reports weekly. This is due each Monday which covers deposits made during previous 7 days (Mon-Sun.).
  • June 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of May 31, 2009.
  • July 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of June 30, 2009.
  • August 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of July 31, 2009.
  • August 10-17, 2009-Committee books open for public inspection.
  • September 10, 2009-Monthly C3 and C4 Report for the close of August 31, 2009.
  • October 13, 2009-21 Day Pre-General C4 Report due for the close of September 1 to October 12, 2009
  • October 13 to November 2, 2009-Special reports due if committee makes or receives contributions of $1,000 or more in the aggregate.
  • October 26 to November 2, 2009-Campaign books open for public inspection.l
  • October 27, 2009-7 day Pre-General C4 report due for the close of October 13 to October 26, 2009
  • December 10, 2009-Post-General C4 and C3 report due for the close of October 27 to November 30, 2009
  • January 11, 2010-End of Cycle C4 and C3 report due for the close of December 1 to December 31, 2009[20].

Campaign advertising restrictions

Under Washington state law, any advertising for ballot measures is subject to disclosure standards. All written political advertising, whether relating to ballot propositions shall include the sponsor's name and address. All radio and television political advertising relating to ballot propositions, shall include the sponsor's name[21]. The independent expenditure clauses for advertisements do not apply to ballot initiative groups as groups aimed at the influence of passage or defeat of a ballot measure must be registered by the Washington PDC[22].

Dissolving a committee

In Washington, when a ballot proposition group is dissolved, campaigns can use their surplus funds to:

  • Return the surplus funds to a contributor in an amount not to exceed that contributor's original contribution.
  • Transfer the surplus funds to the candidate's personal account as reimbursement for lost earnings incurred as a result of that candidate's election campaign. Such lost earnings is rendered as unpaid salary or if not salaried, as an amount not to exceed income received by the candidate for services rendered during an appropriate, corresponding time period. All lost earnings incurred shall be documented and must be recorded by the campaign's treasurer.
  • Transfer the surplus without limit to a political party or to a caucus political committee.
  • Donate the surplus to a charitable organization registered by the State of Washington.
  • Transmit the surplus to the Washington State Treasurer for deposit in the general fund, the oral history, state library, and archives account, or the legislative international trade account under Washington Law.
  • Hold the surplus campaign funds in a separate account for non-reimbursed public office-related expenses and report any such activity to the Washington PDC[23].

External links

References

  1. "Washington State Legislature" Washington Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute Revised Code of Washington 42.17.360(5))
  2. "Washington State Legislature" Washington Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute Revised Code of Washington 42.17.380)
  3. Washington State Legislature "Washington Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute Revised Code of Washington 42.17.3691)
  4. Washington State Legislature "Washington Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute Revised Code of Washington 42.17.020(39))
  5. Washington State Legislature "Washington Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute Revised Code of Washington 42.17.040)
  6. Washington State Legislature "Washington Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute Revised Code of Washington 42.17.040(h))
  7. Washington State PDC "Campaign Contributions Limit Chart"(See Bottom of Page 1)
  8. Washington State PDC "Campaign Contributions Limit Chart"(See PAC Designation on the chart)
  9. Washington Legislature "Washington State Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute RCW 42.17.065)
  10. Washington Legislature "Washington Campaign Finance Law"(Referenced Statute RCW 42.17.103(1)
  11. Washington Legislature "Washington Campaign Finance Law"(Revised Statutes 42.17.105 (1)(1a))
  12. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See C1pc)
  13. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See C3)
  14. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See C4)
  15. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See C5)
  16. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See Schedule A)
  17. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See Schedule B)
  18. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See Schedule C)
  19. "Washington PDC" Reporting Forms and Types(See Schedule L)
  20. "Washington PDC" 2009 Campaign Finance Reporting Deadlines
  21. "Washington Legislature" Washington Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute RCW 42.17.510(1))
  22. "Washington Legislature" Washington Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute RCW 42.17.510(2))(3))
  23. "Washington State Legislature" Washington Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute RCW 42.17.095(1)-(7)