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The campaign finance reporting process for candidates seeking state office is governed by Title II, Chapter 68A of the Iowa Code and is outlined below. Candidates seeking federal office must file with the Federal Election Commission. Reporting details for federal candidates are not included in this section.

Reporting Requirements

  • All reports included in this section must be filed electronically with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board here.[1]
  • Once campaign contributions or expenditures exceed a total of $750 in a calendar year, a candidate must designate one committee to monitor campaign funds and file disclosure statements. Within 10 days of organizing such a committee, a Statement of Organization must filed.[2][3]
  • Candidates must file four main reports covering four reporting periods during an election year.[4] The reports must disclose the amount of cash on hand and the total amount of contributions given to the candidate’s committee during the reporting period, including the name and address of each person who made one or more contributions of money or in-kind donations to the candidate’s committee equalling $25 or more in a calendar year. Disbursements made by the candidate’s committee as well as the amount and nature of any debts owed by the candidate’s committee must also be reported.[5] The reporting deadlines and reporting periods are listed below.
    • The report covering financial activity from January 1 to May 14 is due on May 19.[6]
    • The report covering financial activity from May 15 to July 14 is due on July 19.[6]
    • The report covering financial activity from July 15 to October 14 is due on October 19.[6]
    • The report covering financial activity from October 15 to December 31 is due on January 19 of the preceding year.[6]
  • Candidates may also have to file supplemental reports in addition to the four main reports. These are due if contributions exceeding a certain amount are received after a main report has been filed but before a primary, special or general election is held. These reports must cover financial activity starting the day after the last day covered in the most recent report through the Tuesday prior to the election. These reports are only required if contributions of money or in-kind donations during this time period exceed:[4]
  • During non-election years, candidates must file a report covering the entire year's financial activity. This report is due on January 19 of the following year.[4]

Permitted uses of campaign funds

  • Campaign funds are only to be used for campaign purposes, educational expenses or other expenses associated with the duties of office and constituency services. They cannot be used for personal expenses or personal benefit. The following list describes permitted uses of campaign funds.[7]
    • Advertising and general expenses associated with a campaign.
    • Travel and lodging expenses for campaign or officeholder purposes. This includes training sessions, workshops and meals, as long as they are for campaign purposes.
    • Contributions to political parties and county central committees.
    • Fundraiser tickets for a candidate or PAC event for up to two people, as long as they attend.
    • Purchase or lease of campaign equipment, such as copiers and computers, and office space.
    • Payment of salaries for campaign staff.
    • Contributions to charitable donations.
    • Mailings, including newsletters or holiday cards, sent to constituents.
  • The following list describes uses of campaign funds that are not permitted.[7][8]
    • Personal services of attorney or accountant. Paying for these services is permitted if the service rendered is campaign related.
    • Clothing or laundry expenses, unless the clothing is for campaign advertising.
    • Purchase or lease of a motor vehicle, unless the vehicle is used for campaign purposes.
    • Mortgage or rental payments for residency.
    • Membership in professional organizations or service organizations, unless the service organization was joined solely to enhance candidacy.
    • Contributions to a PAC (except for the two tickets allowed for a fundraiser).
    • Contributions to a candidate (except for the two tickets allowed for a fundraiser or when paying joint expenses).
    • Satisfaction of personal debts other than campaign loans.
    • Payments of items or services clearly in excess of the fair market value price.

Contribution and expenditure limits

  • In addition to the above reporting requirements and permitted uses of campaign funds, candidates must also adhere to the following contribution and expenditure limits:
    • A candidate’s committee must not accept or make contributions from or to any other candidate’s committee, including candidates in other states or for federal office, unless the two committees are for the same candidate.[8]
    • Using contributions from an unknown source is prohibited.[9]
    • Knowingly accepting a contribution or expenditure made by one person in the name of another person is prohibited.[10]
    • Candidate's committees are prohibited from accepting contributions from an insurance company, savings and loan association, bank, credit union, or corporation.[11]
  1. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 401," Accessed January 14, 2014
  2. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 202," Accessed January 14, 2014
  3. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 201," Accessed January 14, 2014
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 402," Accessed January 14, 2014
  5. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 402A," Accessed January 14, 2014
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Iowa Ethics and Disclosure Board Website, "Reporting Dates," Accessed January 14, 2014
  7. 7.0 7.1 Iowa Ethics and Disclosure Board Website, "Uses of Campaign Funds," Accessed January 14, 2014
  8. 8.0 8.1 Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 302," Accessed January 14, 2014
  9. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 501," Accessed January 14, 2014
  10. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 502," Accessed January 14, 2014
  11. Iowa Code, "Title II, Chapter 68A, Section 503," Accessed January 14, 2014