Campaign finance requirements for Wisconsin ballot measures
- 1 General requirements
- 2 Campaign finance requirements
- 3 Campaign advertising restrictions
- 4 Terminating a committee
- 5 External links
- 6 References
If a person feels someone violated Wisconsin campaign finance laws, the first step is to file a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. Under Wisconsin law, the complaint must be filed as soon there is a known allegation. This is because Wisconsin has a three year statute of limitations for filing complaints.
Once the complaint is received by the Government Accountability Board, then its lead legal counsel and staff Attorneys review the complaint if its sufficient and valid. Then at anytime the staff for the GAB can at anytime ask for further questions from both parties. This is done when the complaint is served to the alleged party. The alleged party has a chance to respond to the complaint upon service of the documents. It is the up to the Director pf the GAB to determine if a probable cause hearing is necessary once all the information is recieved. If a probable cause hearing is warranted, it is up to all the members of the GAB to determine if there is enough evidence beyond a reasonable doubt to find the alleged party in violation of campaign finance laws.
In most cases if the alleged party is found guilty a monetary fine is assessed through civil action is done. If any case involves criminal law, the GAB can refer the case to the Wisconsin Attorney General for prosecution.
Statement of Organization Form EB-1
Under Wisconsin law, any individual or group in support or opposition of a ballot measure that contributes $25 or more must file a Campaign Registration Statement which is Form EB-1 with the Government Accountability Board. Form EB-1 is considered to be the official Statement of Organization. Also, any corporation that is making direct expenditures in support or opposition of a ballot measure must file Form EB-1 too with the GAB.
The $500 in 15 days rule
Under Wisconsin law, all referendum groups must file a report with the Government Accountability Board within 24 hours of receiving a contribution of $500 or more. This is for contributions made in the last fifteen days before the date of an election. Wisconsin is one of a few states that requires 24 hour reporting of large contributions within the final days before the election.
Campaign finance requirements
$50 Cash limit
Under Wisconsin law, no referendum group can accept more than $50 in campaign contributions made with cash.
Annual filing fee
Any referendum group that filed a Statement of Organization with the Government Accountability Board must pay an annual $100 filing fee when filing a statement of organization (Form EB-1). The requirement to pay a filing fee is if a referendum group plans to have more than $2,500 or more in financial activity during the election cycle.
In Wisconsin, corporations are allowed to donate to groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure. However, this is different from candidates and candidate committees in which Wisconsin State Law prohibits corporate contributions. Corporations that are registered with the Government Accountability Board must have a separate bank account for these contributions.
All referendum groups must file campaign finance reports if they have more than $1,000 or more in financial activity in a given year. This counts for both contributions and expenditures.
Campaign advertising restrictions
All political advertisements at the bottom of the ad regardless of the medium used must have a disclaimer. The usual form is "Paid for XYZ Political Committee, Tom Smith Treasurer" as the accepted form of disclaimer. Under Wisconsin law, there is no mandatory holdover requirement that requires committees to keep ads on file like other states do.
Terminating a committee
Under Wisconsin law, a referendum group can disband if the group expects no more financial obligations, to no longer receive campaign contribution, expects to make no more expenditures, and has a balance on hand of zero at the time of dissolution. This report can be filed with the Government Accountability Board for statewide ballot measures with local ballot measures are filed with the local county clerk. The report must show a cash balance on hand of zero at the end of the reporting period and must indicate on how they will disburse all surplus funds.
Under Wisconsin law, surplus funds may be used for any political purpose allowed by law, returned to the donors in the amount not exceeding their original contribution, donated to a charitable organization, or to the Wisconsin Common School Fund.
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board-Elections Division
- Wisconsin CFIS (Campaign Finance Information System)
- "Wisconsin Government Accountability Board" Complaint Guide(See Pages 1-3)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.01(10) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.05(4) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.05(2) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.12(5) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.16(2) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.055(1) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.055(3) Wisconsin Statutes)
- "Wisconsin Legislature" Wisconsin Campaign Finance Law(Referenced Statute 11.05(2r) Wisconsin Statutes)