The Franchise Tax Board is authorized under Section 90001 of the California Government Code to audit Campaign Disclosure Statements. The audit can include tests of the accounting records and other such auditing procedures. The purpose of campaign disclosure is to provide the public with the identity of contributors and the amounts they give, as well as the amount officeholders, candidates and committees spend. The laws passed to enforce that purpose can be challenging for the unwary, therefore some often overlooked requirements, some identified in audit reports, are provided here:
- Even unopposed candidates are subject to the campaign disclosure provisions of the Political Reform Act (Government Code §82007).
- Prior to soliciting or receiving any contribution (including a loan), all elected officeholders, and all candidates must file Form 501 (candidate intention).
- Contributions include personal funds and are subject to the same disclosure requirements.
- A Statement of Organization (Form 410) must be filed within 10 days by any person who receives contributions totaling $2,000 or more during a calendar year.
- Officeholders and candidates who receive contributions or make expenditures of $2,000 or more must establish a campaign checking account in California and report it on a Form 410.
- Loans to a candidate are considered contributions unless the loan is from a financial institution.
- Campaign disclosure laws require that expenditures of $100 or more be made by written instrument containing the names of both the payee and payor. Never accept or spend $100 or more in cash (Gov. Code §84300)..
- For contributions of $100 or more, including loans and in-kind contributions, you must disclose the contributor's name, street address, occupation and employer. (Gov. Code §84211(f),(g)) Contributions of $100 or more may not be made in the form of a money order or cashier’s check. Contributions may continue to be made with a credit card.
- Maintain details on contributions and expenditures of $25 or more. Refer to record keeping guidelines in the FPPC Campaign Disclosure Manual 2
- Make copies of all contributor checks.
- No personal use of campaign funds. Use campaign funds only for political, legislative, or governmental purposes (Government Code §8314, Penal Code 426).
- The source for each loan must be disclosed.
- All expenditures of $100 or more must be itemized on the campaign statements, and then summarized on the Campaign Disclosure Statement Summary Page. Payee street addresses must be disclosed on the campaign statements for expenditures made (Government Code §84211(k)).
- Open committees are required to file the necessary campaign finance disclosure statements, even if there is no activity, until terminated.
- When information contained in the committee’s Statement of Organization (Form 410) changes, file an amendment within 10 days of the change with the Secretary of State and local filing officer (if applicable).
- All committees making or receiving contribution(s) that total in the aggregate $1,000 or more during the last 90 days before the election, must disclose receipt within 24 hours, even if the contribution is from your personal funds.
- (County Candidates as per local County Ordinance 5798) If $500 or more including contributions aggregated are made to or received by a county candidate during the last 16 days before the election, disclose receipt within 24 hours, even if the contribution is from your personal funds.
- Any person who makes independent expenditures in support of or in opposition to a single candidate for elective office or a single ballot measure, which accumulate to one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) or more during the 90 days immediately preceding the election in which the candidate or measure will be voted on shall file Form 496 within twenty-four (24) hours, each time an independent expenditure is made (Form 462 affirming the independent nature of the expenditure is required). Per Local Ordinance 5798 – Committees supporting or opposing any County candidate are required to file 24 hour independent expenditure reports during the local election cycle
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