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Electioneering

Q1. What is “electioneering”?

A1.  Electioneering communications:

  • Clearly refer to a candidate running for public office,
  • Are broadcasted, printed, mailed, delivered or distributed within thirty days before a primary election or sixty days before a general election,
  • Are broadcasted to, printed in newspapers distributed to, mailed to, delivered by hand to, or otherwise distributed to an audience that includes members of the electorate for the public office mentioned, and
  • Are the functional equivalent of express advocacy.

Communications are considered electioneering if they are subject to no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate.

Note that many electioneering communications are also independent expenditures, and therefore subject to additional legal requirements that apply to independent expenditures.

 

Q2. What does the "functional equivalent of express advocacy" mean?

A2.  Express advocacy is any message that specifically urges the election or defeat of a clearly-identified candidate.  For example, "Vote for John Doe for Governor!" is express advocacy.

A communication is not the functional equivalent of express advocacy if it:

  • Does not mention any election, candidacy, political party, opposing candidate, or voting by the general public,
  • Does not take a position on any candidate's or officeholder's character, qualifications, or fitness for office, and
  • Only urges a candidate to take a position on an issue or urges the public to adopt a position and contact their candidate about an issue.

 

Q3. Who has to file electioneering reports?

A3.  Any person, including a candidate and/or candidate committee, who spends $1,000 or more per calendar year for electioneering communications is required to report these expenditures.

 

Q4. When do we have to file electioneering reports?

A4.  Electioneering contributions and expenditures can be reported when you report other contributions and expenditures, but there are a few additional steps that must be taken. 

Electioneering reports must include all expenditures made on electioneering communications and the name and address of contributors giving more than $250 per year for electioneering.  The occupation and employer of "natural persons" contributing more than $250 per year for electioneering must also be reported.

 

Q5. How do I report electioneering contributions?

A5.  To report an electioneering contribution:

  1. Log in to TRACER.
  2. Click on the "Contributions" tab.
  3. Click on the "Add" button.
  4. Fill out the form with information about the contribution. 
  5. Check the box next to "Made for Electioneering Communications" to indicate that the contribution is related to electioneering.
  6. When you are finished, click on "Save".

 

Q6. How do I report electioneering expenditures?

A6.  To report electioneering expenditures:

  1. Log in to TRACER.
  2. Click on the "Expenditures" tab.
  3. Click on the "Add" button.
  4. Fill out the form with information about the expenditure. 
  5. Mark "Yes" under "Made for Electioneering Communication" to indicate that the expenditure is related to electioneering.
  6. When you have finished entering information, click on "Next".
  7. Enter information for the candidate who is associated with the expenditure.  You can manually enter the information or click on "Search" to find the candidate and automatically populate their information into the form.
  8. When you are finished, click on "Save".

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Q7. What is not considered an electioneering communication?

A7.  Electioneering communication does not include:

  • Opinion or commentary writings, editorial endorsements, or letters to the editor published in a periodical not owned or controlled by the candidate(s) or party named.
  • Editorial endorsements aired by a broadcast facility not owned or controlled by the candidate(s) or party.
  • Any communication by persons made in the regular course and scope of their business or any communication made by a membership organization solely to members of such
    organization and their families.
  • Any communication that refers to any candidate only as part of the popular name of a bill or statute.

 

Q8. What do we have to include in an electioneering report?

A8.  Reports must include details about all spending on electioneering communications.

For any contributor who has given more than $250 per year for electioneering, you must include:

  • The contributor's name.
  • The contributor's address. 
  • For "natural persons", their occupation and employer.

 

Q9. When are electioneering reports due?

A9.  Electioneering reports are due at the same time as committee reports for contributions and expenditures.

 

Q10. Do communications have to include a "paid for by" statement?

A10.  Colorado’s campaign finance laws do not require a “Paid for by” statement unless the communication meets the definition of independent expenditure or are made by issue committees.

Independent expenditures must feature the name of individual making the independent expenditure together with a statement that the communication or advertisement is not authorized by, coordinated with, or controlled by a candidate is required. This information must be prominently featured on the communication.

Broadcast communications by issue committees that cost more than $1,000 must contain a disclaimer including the name of the issue committee.

The Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.) regulates political advertising for television and radio and may require a “Paid for by” statement. For more information, visit their website at www.fcc.gov.

In some instances a newspaper or other publication may require you to include a “Paid for by” statement as a condition of publishing your advertisement; such a requirement is made at the discretion of the publication.

 

Q11. Can a corporation or labor organization contribute or provide funding for electioneering communications?

A11.  It would depend on who the recipient of the funding is.  While the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case, and the subsequent Colorado Supreme Court case allows corporations and labor organizations to provide funding for independent expenditures, which may also meet the definition of electioneering communication, this did not change the prohibition on corporations and labor organizations contributing directly to candidates, candidate committees, and/or political parties.  If the recipient of the funding for electioneering communication is a candidate, candidate committee or political party then the funding from a corporation or labor organization would be prohibited.  Please note, there may also be additional requirements for registration and reporting as an Independent Expenditure Committee.  

 

Q12. What laws and rules apply to electioneering?

A12.  The following apply to electioneering:

 

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