Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions for Candidates
Why do I have to file campaign finance reports?
The philosophy behind campaign finance reporting is that voters should have an opportunity to review which groups or interests may be influencing candidates for public office by making campaign contributions. Voters should also be able to see that all money spent by a campaign is used legitimately.
When must campaign finance reports be filed?
Candidates may be required to file pre-election and post-election reports, for both the primary election and the general election. Candidates may also be required to file periodic reports in years in which there is no election.
Why should I retain a professional compliance service such as Campaign Finance Services?
While it may sound easy to file reports listing contributions and expenditures, in practice it becomes much more complicated. Electronic reporting systems used by federal, state and local compliance authorities can be challenging to master. The rules regarding which contributions may or may not be accepted require a clear understanding of law, court rulings and administrative interpretations. Questions often arise regarding the legitimacy of certain expenditures.
What could happen if my campaign finance matters are not properly handled?
Even well-intentioned campaigns make innocent mistakes which can be turned into political issues that may endanger a candidate’s reputation. Poorly managed campaigns can leave a candidate saddled with fines and late fees amounting to thousands of dollars. Reconstructing financial information after the fact, so reports can be filed or amended to the satisfaction of compliance authorities, can be both extremely time consuming and very expensive.
Why not hire an accountant to handle my campaign finance matters?
Accountants know their numbers, but they generally don’t know campaign finance law. We provide a level of expertise developed through years of experience that most accountants cannot match -- and our fees are probably less.
What can Campaign Finance Services do for my campaign?
- Provide information and advice on setting up your committee’s financial procedures so vital records are retained and properly organized and the risk of misuse of funds is minimized.
- We will provide basic training for your committee staff so they can recognize campaign finance issues when they see them.
- We will provide your committee with protocols for recording contributions and expenditures.
- We will review all your transactions to ensure they comply with the law and offer options for resolving problem transactions.
- When filing deadlines approach we will remind you of the deadline and gather any final transaction information.
- We will compile your report and file it with the appropriate compliance authority prior to the filing deadline in a professional, accurate and timely manner.
- Should your committee encounter a campaign finance problem we will work with you to resolve it.
- During the course of your campaign you may contact us at any time for answers and advice on campaign finance questions.
What sorts of campaign finance questions might come up?
There are many. Examples include:
- What is an Affidavit of Compliance?
- How are anonymous contributions handled?
- May the campaign accept donations from business entities or non-profit groups?
- May the campaign donate to other groups?
- Can a candidate be reimbursed for campaign expenses?
- Must the campaign file any paperwork with the IRS?
- Are there ways for donors to help after they have donated the maximum amount?
- What are 'late contributions'?
- Can remaining funds be used in subsequent campaigns?
- How should campaign websites be configured for accepting contributions?
- May a campaign accept contributions from out-of-state committees?
What about after the campaign is over?
We will continue working with you. Your campaign is required to file a post-election report. If you are elected to public office you will need to continue your committee and we can help you to understand and maximize its role during your term of office. Should you lose we can help you to decide on your next steps and see you through them.