What contributor information must be disclosed and what triggers disclosure?
For contributions of $100 or more, a committee must disclose the name, address, occupation and employer of the contributor.
When do candidate and party committees file their disclosure reports?
Most committees file semiannual reports disclosing contributions received and expenditures made in the preceding six months. The report deadlines are July 31 (for activity between January 1 and June 30) and January 31 (for activity between July 1 and December 31 of the preceding calendar year).
In addition to the semiannual reports, which are filed even in non-election years, committees must file two pre-election reports before primary and general elections. The deadlines for pre-election reports for the November 4, 2014 election were: October 5 (for activity between July 1 and September 30) and October 23 (for activity between October 1 and October 18).
In addition to the scheduled reports, are there any event-driven reports candidates and parties must file?
Yes, depending on a committee’s contributions and expenditures, it may be required to file additional reports. Here are a few examples:
For Candidate Committees:
- Election Cycle Report: these reports cover certain activity in the 90-day window before an election. Candidate committees must report contributions aggregating $1,000 or more from a single source within 24 hours of receipt;
- $5,000 Report: for any time outside of the 90-day window before an election, candidate committees must report contributions of $5,000 or more within 10 business days of receipt.
For Party Committees:
- Election Cycle Report: these reports cover certain activity in the 90-day window before an election, and reports must be filed within 24-hours of the triggering event. These events include: receipt of contributions aggregating $1,000 or more from a single source; making certain independent expenditures of $1,000 or more; making a contribution of $1,000 or more in connection with a candidate or ballot measure or to another party committee and contributions of $1,000 or more to a ballot measure committee.
- Issue Advocacy Report: In the 45 days before an election, if a party committee receives a payment (or promise of payment) of $50,000 or more, for a communication that identifies a state candidate but does not expressly advocate for the election or defeat of that candidate, the committee must disclose the payment within 48 hours.
In an effort to shine light on the underlying sources of dark money contributions—and millions of dollars flowing into the state’s elections through nonprofit organizations—the California Assembly amended the state’s laws in 2014. The new law requires “multipurpose organizations” to provide some disclosure if they meet a threshold of political activity in California. The law is intended to capture the political spending—and the source of that spending—of organizations that typically receive and spend money for purposes other than political activity in California and to keep these organizations from becoming conduits for dark money.
What is a multipurpose organization?
A multipurpose organization typically receives and spends money for purposes other than making political expenditures in California. Multipurpose organizations include:
- Nonprofit organizations
- Federal and out-of-state PACs
- Trade and professional associations
- Civic and religious organizations
- Fraternal societies
- Educational institutions
These organizations may occasionally engage in political activity in the state. When this activity reaches the monetary thresholds established by the new law, a multipurpose organization is required to register as a political committee, disclose its political expenditures and the underlying source of those expenditures.
Under the new law, when will a multipurpose organization be required to register as a political committee and disclose its donors?
California law now requires a multipurpose organization to register as a political committee and disclose its donors in the following circumstances:
- The organization receives donations of $1,000 or more specifically for political purposes;
- The organization makes contributions or expenditures of more than $50,000 in a period of 12 months or
- The organization makes contributions or expenditures of more than $100,000 in a consecutive four-year period.
Is the multipurpose organization required to disclose all of its donors?
No, only the following donors must be disclosed:
- Donors who made payments to the organization specifically for political purposes in California;
- Donors who knew all or a portion of their contribution would be used for political purposes in California;
- If the first two categories do not capture the full amount of the organization’s political expenditure or contribution, the organization must disclose its most recent donors until the full amount of the expenditure is accounted for.