With the June 7, 2022 California primary election fast-approaching, Olson Remcho’s Compliance Reporting Unit is hard at work filing numerous disclosure reports on behalf of the firm’s clients. Lead by our Director of Compliance Michelle Wixom, our Compliance Reporting Unit manages filings for over 400 filers, including PACs, major donors and lobby filers.
Below are our top five tips to ensure compliance during election season.
- Verify contributions limits before making a contribution. Contribution limits vary at the federal, state and local levels and are also periodically adjusted for inflation. In addition, certain jurisdictions place restrictions on the sources permitted to contribute, including a federal prohibition on contributions from corporations and labor organizations to federal candidates and certain types of federal PACs. Finally, many local jurisdictions in California that did not previously have a contribution limit are now subject to state contribution limits as of January 1, 2021.
- Ensure compliance with federal, state and local disclaimer requirements for all advertisements. Almost any type of political advertisement will require some kind of “paid for by” disclaimer. The language, font size, and other specifications vary depending on the type of advertisement and the jurisdiction. Under state law, the Fair Political Practices Commission is authorized to impose penalties up to three times the cost of an advertisement for an inaccurate disclaimer. Disclaimers are an area of risk and we recommend seeking legal review before disseminating political advertisements to ensure compliance with all disclaimer requirements.
- Calendar all reporting deadlines. Whether you are responsible for preparing your PAC’s filings or our firm is responsible for doing so, calendaring applicable reporting deadlines is important to ensure your availability to review, sign and file all required reports on time. Unlike tax returns, extensions are generally not available for campaign finance reports.
- Ensure treasurer availability and add an assistant treasurer as backup. Once you calendar the deadlines, ensure that the PAC treasurer or responsible officer for a Major Donor filer is available to sign the required reports. Adding an assistant PAC treasurer to your Statement of Organization can ensure that a backup signer is available if the treasurer is unavailable to sign.
- If you make contributions in another state, first verify the limits and any applicable reporting requirements. Different states impose different limits and restrictions on who can contribute, and how much. In addition, different states have different thresholds at which registration and disclosure is required by contributors.
If you have any questions regarding your filing obligations, we encourage you to contact your Olson Remcho attorney.