FAQs

Contents
527 political organizations
Candidates
Candidate committees
Caucuses
Complaints
Contributions
Definitions
Disclosure
Electioneering
Expenditures
Federal Political Action Committees (PACs)
Filing
Fundraising
Independent expenditures
Issue committees
Limited liability companies (LLCs)
Lobbyists
Major contributors
Political committees
Political parties
Recall committees
Registered agents
School district candidates
Special district candidates
Searching
Small donor committees
Voluntary spending limits



Independent Expenditures

Q1. What is an Independent Expenditure Committee?

A1.  An Independent Expenditure Committee is one or more persons who spend in excess of one thousand dollars (or collect more than one thousand dollars from one or more persons) for the purpose of supporting or opposing candidates running for office.  The activity is considered independent because it is accomplished without the support of or any coordination with a candidate, candidate committee or candidate agent.

 

Q2. What is an independent expenditure?

A2.  Independent expenditures are expenditures made by individuals, businesses, and other entities to support or oppose candidates running for office.  The activity is conducted without the support of or any coordination with a candidate, candidate committee, or candidate’s agent.

Expenditures made by a candidate committee in support of a candidacy, or those controlled by or coordinated with a candidate or their agent, are not "independent expenditures".

 

Q3. Does an Independent Expenditure Committee have to register?

A3.  Yes.  Once any person, group, business, or other entity makes independent expenditures totaling more than $1,000, or accepts donations in excess of $1,000, an Independent Expenditure Committee must be registered within two business days. The committee must establish a separate bank account to be used exclusively for independent expenditures.

 

Q4. How do I register an Independent Expenditure Committee?

A4.  You must register a committee online.   

Before registering, make sure that you have:

  • A committee name and any acronyms that you will use.
  • A registered agent.
  • The registered agent's email address and phone number.
  • Physical and mailing addresses for the committee's principal place of business.
  • A description of your committee's purpose.  This information should be detailed, including candidates, ballot measure numbers, or policy positions that you will support or oppose.
  • Financial information, including the name of the bank where the committee has or will have an account.

To register:

  1. Go to the TRACER campaign finance disclosure website.
  2. Click on the "Committee Registration" button.
  3. Select "", then click on "Next >".
  4. Fill out the form.  When you are finished, click on "Submit".
  5. Print a copy of the form for your records.
  6. Click on "Finished" to complete your registration.
  7. Login information will be sent to the registered agent's email address.

If you need help using TRACER, see Learn to Use TRACER.

 

Q5. What is a registered agent?

A5.  A registered agent is the person to whom all correspondence about the committee will be addressed.  He or she is also responsible for maintaining committee records and filing reports on time.  The registered agent must be a natural person.

The registered agent acts as a treasurer, keeping track of all contributions and expenditures.

In addition to the registered agent, the committee may also appoint a designated filing agent to be responsible for the timely filing of Contribution and Expenditure reports.

 

Q6. Do we have to have a registered agent?

A6.  Yes.  All committees registered with our office must have a registered agent.

 

Q7. How do we change our registered agent?

A7.  A committee can file an amended registration to change the registered agent. 

A registered agent can also resign. To resign, a registered agent must file a resignation letter with the appropriate filing officer via certified mail.

There must be a registered agent associated with each committee at all times.

 

Q8. How do I amend our registration?

A8.  Amendments, including name and address changes, changes to the committee's purpose and changes to financial institution, can be filed online at the TRACER campaign finance disclosure website.  Amendments must be reported within five days of a change.

Top

Q9. What do we have to report?

A9.  Independent expenditure committees must itemize all expenditures of more than $20 and all donations of more than $250. 

For contributions of $20 or more, the name and address of the contributor must be reported.

For contributions of $250 or more, the contributor’s name, address, employer and occupation must be reported.

If an independent expenditure of more than $1,000 is made within thirty days of a primary or general election, a 48 Hour Notice of Independent Expenditure must be filed within 48 hours of obligating funds for the expenditure. This report is in addition to, not in lieu of, the regular disclosure report.

In addition to other reporting requirements, independent expenditures of more than $1,000 must contain a disclaimer identifying the person making the expenditure.

Persons giving more than $1,000 to independent expenditure committees to be used for independent expenditures must file Independent Expenditure Donor Reports for every reporting period in which they make such donations.

 

Q10. Do we have to report expenditures used to support or oppose a ballot measure?

A10.  No.  Laws governing independent expenditures apply only to expenditures made to expressly support or oppose a candidate or candidates.  They do not apply to expenditures made to support or oppose ballot measures.

 

Q11. Are there penalties if we don't register or file reports?

A11.  Yes.  Failure to register an independent expenditure committee or to file independent expenditure reports on or before the required due date will result in a penalty of $50 per day.

Independent expenditure committees who fail to file three consecutive reports may be subject to $500-$1,000 per day in additional penalties.

 

Q12. Who has to file Independent Expenditure Donor Reports?

A12.  Persons who make donations of $1,000 or more in a calendar year to independent expenditure committees or other persons with the intent that such donations be used for independent expenditures, must file donor reports.

Donors who provide $1,000 or more for independent expenditures during a calendar year must file Donor Reports directly with our office.  Such reports are filed by the donor on the same schedule that the committee files its own reports.  Additionally, donors will need to provide their name and address to the independent expenditure committee, and this information will appear on disclosure reports filed by the committee if donors give $250 or more.  In addition to a donor’s name and address, their employer and occupation is required for donations of $250 or more.

 

Q13. How long do we keep our records?

A13.  Committees and candidates must keep their records for 180 days following any general election in which the committee or party received contributions.

If a complaint is filed, the records must remain available until the matter is resolved.

 

Q14. Do we have to set up a bank account specifically for the committee?

A14.  All contributions received by a committee must be deposited in a financial institution in a separate account with a title that includes the committee name.

You can choose which bank you will use for your committee account.  Please consult your bank and IRS regulations concerning account requirements, which may vary depending on the institution.

Independent expenditure committees must have a dedicated bank account to be used solely for its donations and expenditures.

 

Q15. What statutes and rules apply to Independent Expenditure Committees?

A15.  The following apply to Independent Expenditure Committees:

 

Q16. What statutes and rules apply to Independent Expenditure Donor Reports?

A16.  The following apply to Independent Expenditure Donor Reports:

 

Top